Report: US could allow limited Iranian uranium enrichment
Obama Administration officials say they could support allowing Iran to enrich uranium up to a 5% purity if Tehran submits its nuke facilities to strict oversight measures, US paper reports; Concession expected to draw opposition from Israeli, US officials
United States officials have expressed willingness to support allowing Iran to continue enriching uranium up to concentrations of 5% if Tehran agreed to unrestricted inspections of its nuclear facilities and other oversight measures and safeguards that the United Nations long has demanded, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
The major concession could be a step towards an agreement meant to compel the Islamic Republic to curb its ability to develop an atom bomb. The US newspaper cited officials in the Obama Administration.
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Iran: We have a right to enrich uranium
Iran has begun enriching small amounts of uranium to 20% purity in February 2010 for what it contends are peaceful purposes, although most of its uranium is purified at lower levels. Uranium can be used as fuel for a nuclear bomb at about 90% enrichment.
The US and its allies fear that approving even low-level enrichment could eventually lead to the knowledge and experience necessary to develop an atom bomb.
According to the LA Times, however, a consensus has gradually emerged among US and foreign officials that Tehran is unlikely agree to completely halt enrichment, and that pushing this demand could make it impossible to reach a negotiated deal to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
The United States and five other world powers began negotiations with Iran on April 14 in Istanbul to try to finally broker a deal. The talks are scheduled to resume in Baghdad on May 23.
The reported shift in the US position is likely to draw strong opposition from Israeli officials, as well as presumptive US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and some members of Congress who have expressed more aggressive positions than the Obama Administration.
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