Compromise being weighed would allow Tehran to keep half of its centrifuges in exchange for various checks and balances
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The US is considering softening present demands that Iran gut its uranium enrichment program in favor of a new proposal that would allow Tehran to keep nearly half of the project intact while placing other constraints on its possible use as a path to nuclear weapons, diplomats told The Associated Press.
The initiative, revealed late Thursday, comes after months of nuclear negotiations between Iran and six world powers that have failed to substantially narrow differences over the future size and capacity of Tehran’s uranium enrichment program. Iran insists it does not want atomic arms but the West is only willing to lift nuclear-related sanctions if Tehran agrees to substantially shrink enrichment and other activities that Iran could turn toward making such weapons.
The US, which fears Tehran may enrich to weapons-grade level used to arm nuclear warheads, ideally wants no more than 1,500 centrifuges left operating. Iran insists it wants to use the technology only to make reactor fuel and for other peaceful purposes and insists it be allowed to run at least the present 9,400 machines.
The tentative new US offer attempts to meet the Iranians close to half way on numbers, said two diplomats who demanded anonymity because their information is confidential. They said it envisages letting Iran keep up to 4,500 centrifuges but would reduce the stock of uranium gas fed into the machines to the point where it would take more than a year of enriching to create enough material for a nuclear warhead.