In what would be a significant concession, U.S. officials said they might agree to let Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity if it agrees to the unrestricted inspections, strict oversight and numerous safeguards that the UN has long demanded. A shift in the U.S. position that Iran must halt all enrichment activities is likely to prompt strong objections from Israeli leaders, the probable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and many members of Congress.
U.S. officials say Iran is unlikely to agree to a complete halt in enrichment and that demanding it do so could make it impossible to reach a negotiated deal to stop the country’s nuclear program. However, a senior administration official emphasized that such a deal remained only a small possibility because Iran has shown so little willingness to meet international demands.
“There have been many signals lately that the red line has shifted and they’re no longer pushing for full suspension,” said Michael Singh, who served as President George W. Bush’s top Iran advisor and who strongly opposes allowing Iran to enrich any uranium. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argues that letting any centrifuges spin in Iran will allow scientists there to sharpen their mastery of nuclear science and edge toward bomb-making capability.
(Paul Richter – Los Angeles Times)