Paul Richter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration may be prepared to capitulate to Iranian demands that it be allowed to enrich uranium–a measure that would defy UN Security Council Resolution 1696, which prevents any nuclear enrichment by Iran–and which the U.S. supported.
In what would be a significant concession, Obama administration officials say they could support allowing Iran to maintain a crucial element of its disputed nuclear program if Tehran took other major steps to curb its ability to develop a nuclear bomb.
U.S. officials said they might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity, which is the upper end of the range for most civilian uses, if its government agrees to the unrestricted inspections, strict oversight and numerous safeguards that the United Nations has long demanded….
A senior administration official said that if Iran fulfills U.S. and other world powers’ demands for strict enforcement of U.N. monitoring and safeguards, “there can be a discussion” of allowing low-level domestic enrichment, “and maybe we can get there, potentially.”
But the official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, emphasized that such discussions remained only a small possibility because Iran has shown so little willingness to meet international demands.
Gary Samore, the top White House official on nuclear nonproliferation, left open the door to Iranian enrichment in recent comments, saying the decision on which parts of Tehran’s program can continue “is a matter for negotiations.”