Apparently, one of the key limiting factors in the Iranian nuclear program is access to uranium. Domestic supplies are limited and of low quality. As such, Iran is heavily dependent on Russia to provide feedstock for its centrifuge-based enrichment program, as well as its Bushehr reactor. For instance, Russia provided 82 tons of low-enriched uranium in February, to allow the initial loading of the reactor.
For those who hope to do so, stopping an Iranian bomb therefore has much to do with convincing Russia to reduce support. Apparently, one thing the Russians want is for Israel to loosen the strong defence relationships it has built with Ukraine and Georgia. Given that Israel has the most to fear from an Iranian bomb – and that they are one of two states that could plausibly use military force to try to disrupt the Iranian atomic effort – this dynamic is a significant one.
As Stephanie Cookeâ€™s book discussed, the proliferation of nuclear weapons has always been associated with the wrangling of great powers. It remains to be seen what outcome will result in this case.
(Note: It would be appreciated if commenters could refrain from any political tirades, if they feel inclined to discuss this. I am sometimes hesitant to post anything related to the Middle East, out of discomfort about the shrill responses any mention of the region can provoke.)