Seyed Hossein Mousavian's informative lecture on Iran nuclear issue in the Common Wealth Club in San Francisco, on C-SPAN, in which he points out that Iran was forced to enrich uranium to 20% to make its own fuel for a medical reactor that treats cancer patients, when the US interferred in Iran's attempts to simply buy the necessary fuel as usual:
"In February 2010, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization proposed that the P5+1 [China, Russia, US, Britain, France and Germany] provide fuel rods for the Tehran research reactor, which is a reactor that was built by Americans and is used for medical isotopes for 800,000 patients struggling with cancer. They need fuel rods to continue to run this nuclear facility. Iranians proposed that we would not increase the level of enrichment beyond 5% if P5+1 would provide the fuel rods. In order to build the fuel rods, you need at least 20% enrichment. This was Iran’s proposal that we would keep enrichment below 5%. We don’t want to have high level enrichment. We don’t want to enrich 20%. Instead, give us the fuel rods. But the Western countries declined.
Iran had no other option but to increase the level of enrichment to 20%. Now people say that because we enriched up to 20%, we must want to build a nuclear bomb. This is the story you read everywhere in the media. But they don’t tell you the truth. In September 2011, the Iranian foreign minister and president came to New York for the United Nations assembly, and they made a proposal to the U.S. and the West. They said, ‘Now that we have 20%, we are ready to stop. We are ready to go back to 3.5% if you provide us with the fuel rods, because about a million patients with cancer need it.’ The U.S. declined.
It was the Iranian proposal to stop enriching at 20% and go back to below 5%. As long as enrichment is below 5%, there is no danger of any nuclear weapon at all. Everybody knows this. But because the U.S. refused our proposal, Iran had to build its own fuel rods to run this American-made Tehran medical research reactor.
I should point out that there was no "non-proliferation" goal served by this US interference in the purchase of fuel rods for this reactor, since reactor fuel rods practically cannot be used to make nukes, and this particular reactor not only operates under constant international monitoring, but it is also far too small to be used to make nukes anyway.
So in short, by interferring with Iran's purchase of fuel for this reactor, the US actually managed to push Iran closer to nuke-making ability by forcing Iran to learn to enrich uranium to 20% purity. And though Iran has repeatedly offered to cease 20% enrichment if it is only allowed to buy the fuel once again, the US has consitently refused this and other Iranian compromise proposals.
So now we have to ask ourselves: Why did the US adopt this policy?
Because like I keep saying over and over again, this conflict actually has nothing to do with nukes or Iran's nuclear program. That's just a pretext for a policy of imposing regime-change, just as 'WMDs in Iraq' was just a pretext too. No amount of Iranian compromise proposals, no amount of IAEA inspections, no amount of restrictions on Iran's nuclear program will ever suffice -- just about the last thing the US wants it to allow this conflict over Iran's nuclear program to be peacefully resolved whilst the regime there is still left in power.
UPDATE: Writing in CounterPunch, Joe Richardson points out that Iran agreed to ship out half of its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium in a deal brokered by Turkey and Brazil with the blessings of the Obama administration, only to have the same administration pull out the rug from under the Brazilians and Turks right when they got Iran's consent to the deal:
The subsequent US failure to avail itself of the opportunity to embrace a deal for which it had supposedly been striving, is perplexing only to who seriously entertain US assurances that its policy is animated by concern over a nuclear weapons’ program... Sanctions are a policy to precipitate war, not to obviate it. How else are we to construe the absurd spectacle being currently enacted amongst Western powers in their dealings with Iran?