Officials: U.S. Could Agree to Limited Iranian Uranium Enrichment
In a major concession, Obama administration officials say they could support allowing Iran to continue a crucial element of its disputed nuclear program if the government in Tehran took other major steps to curb its ability to develop a nuclear bomb.
The officials told the Los Angeles Times they might agree to let Tehran continue enriching uranium up to concentrations of 5% if the Iranian government agreed to unrestricted inspections, and strict oversight and safeguards that the United Nations long has demanded.
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 stockpile is purified at lower levels. Uranium can be used as bomb fuel at about 90% enrichment.
The question of whether to approve even low-level enrichment is highly controversial within the U.S. government and among its allies because of the risk that Iranian scientists still might be able to gain the knowledge and experience to someday build a bomb.