THE BLOG

Only Boston Knows: Feinstein, Hagel Say International Enrichment in Iran Should Be Explored

06/11/2008 12:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Among American newspapers, only the Boston Globe, apparently, thinks its readers might be interested to know that there is a proposal on the table that could bridge the gap between Iran's insistence on its right to enrich uranium on Iranian soil and international concern that Iran's enrichment program would increase the capacity of Iran to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

On the Globe's website, the article is filed under "education." Apparently, if you live in the Boston area, you get to learn about this not because a deal could prevent war between the United States and Iran, not because this proposal suggests that, contrary to the claims of the Bush Administration and Senator McCain, it might be possible to draw an enforceable line between Iran having an enrichment program and Iran having a nuclear weapons program, but because several people who have worked on the proposal are on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Perhaps the MIT folks could expand their team to universities in New York and Washington, so that Americans outside of the Boston area may read about it.

The Globe's Farah Stockman reported yesterday:

A deeply controversial plan put forth by MIT scientists to end the standoff over Iran's nuclear program is getting increased interest from senior members of both parties in Congress and nonproliferation specialists.

The plan, which was rejected three years ago by the Bush administration, argues for a dramatic shift in US policy: Rather than trying to halt Iran's efforts to enrich uranium, the United States should help build an internationally run enrichment facility inside Iran to replace Iran's current facilities.

Supporters argue that such a program would fulfill Iran's insistence on enriching uranium on its own soil, while preventing the dangerous material from being diverted to weapons.

Iran has expressed interest in the proposal, the Globe reports:

Iranian officials proposed building an international enrichment plant inside Iran in a letter they submitted to the United Nations last month, but declined to say whether such a plant would be in addition to or a replacement for their own facilities.

In an interview last month, Iran's ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, said the details should be negotiated.

Senior Members of Congress have expressed interest:

Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, have said publicly that the plan should be explored.

Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, went further, calling the plan "a creative, thoughtful, and productive potential solution."

An "informal adviser" to the Obama campaign "did not rule the option out":

Presidential candidates John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, and Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, have both endorsed using international consortiums to produce nuclear fuel as a way to take production out of the hands of unpredictable states, but neither has said he would consider placing such a facility inside Iran. McCain's campaign said an Iran-based plant would not be "subject to transparent and accountable international safeguards." But advisers to Obama did not rule the option out.

"This is nobody's first choice, but it may be the compromise we end up with," said Joseph Cirincione, a nonproliferation specialist who serves informally as an adviser to Obama's campaign. Cirincione is president of the Ploughshares Fund, a nonproliferation organization based in San Francisco that provided funding for talks that Pickering and his associates held with Iranian officials.

When will the readers of the New York Times and the Washington Post get to learn about this? Years from now, when it can be acknowledged as a "missed opportunity" for U.S. diplomacy?

At the National Conference on Media Reform, Janine Jackson of FAIR was asked about challenging the media's failure to report. It's hard to do media criticism, she said, where there is nothing to criticize. The reporting of one outlet can be used to criticize the others.

So ask away, media critics: how come readers of the Boston Globe get to know about this, but not readers of the New York Times or the Washington Post?