US Might Allow Iran Some Uranium Enrichment

Concession would come in exchange for increased inspections
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2012 6:45 AM CDT
A view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Iran might be allowed to continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity, the high end of civilian usage, if it allows unrestricted inspections and strong supervision of its nuclear program, reports the LA Times. The deal would be a major concession by the United Nations and United States, and Iran has shown little willingness in the past to cooperate with the international community, but arms control experts increasingly believe it is a more realistic deal than the complete shuttering of all nuclear enrichment in Iran.

Weapons-grade uranium needs to be enriched to about 90% purity—so far, Iran has enriched about 210 pounds of uranium to just 20% purity, and 6 tons to 5% or less. Negotiations with Iran began on April 14 in Istanbul, as Israel threatened to attack Iran's nuclear facilities if its weapons program were not halted. But with many in the Israeli and US governments strongly opposed to allowing Iran to continue any nuclear program at all, negotiators are sensitive about the options being discussed. If Iran were to make enough concessions "there can be a discussion" of allowing low-level domestic enrichment, said a senior US official, "and maybe we can get there, potentially."

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