According to The (UK) Telegraph, these are the contours of the “first step” deal the U.S. is offering Iran:
- Iran would stop enriching uranium to the 20 per cent level that is close to weapons-grade – and turn its existing stockpile of this material into harmless oxide.
- Iran would continue enrichment to the 3.5 per cent purity needed for nuclear power stations – but agree to limit the number of centrifuges being used for this purpose. There would, however, be no requirement to remove or disable any other centrifuges.
- Iran would agree not to activate its plutonium reactor at Arak, which could provide another route to a nuclear weapons -capability, during the six-month period. Iran may, however, continue working on the facility.
- Iran would agree not to use its more advanced IR-2 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium between three and five times faster than the older model.
- In return, American would ease economic sanctions, possibly by releasing some Iranian foreign exchange reserves currently held in frozen accounts.
- In addition, some restrictions affecting Iran’s petrochemical, motor and precious metals industries could be relaxed.
“However, a [U.S.] senior administration official made clear that only “reversible” sanctions would be eased — and they could be re-imposed if Iran were to break any deal,” reported the Telegraph. “Hopes of reaching a ‘first step’ agreement of some kind were rising yesterday, with one Western diplomat in Geneva describing the talks as ‘lengthy, constructive and substantial.'”
“David Albright, the director of the Institute for Science and International Security, a think tank which monitors Iran’s nuclear ambitions, cautioned against an agreement that would not genuinely freeze the programme,” noted the Telegraph. “If Iran stopped enrichment to 20 per cent purity and converted its existing stockpile, this would be ‘nowhere near enough’ he said. Any interim agreement would be also undermined if Iran was still able to manufacture centrifuges, including the old IR-1s and the more advanced IR-2Ms. If so, Iran could then ’emerge if the deal fell apart with several thousands IR-1s and IR-2Ms to be deployed rapidly in Natanz, and possibly even a third centrifuge plant,’ said Mr Albright. ‘I think it is quite reasonable to ask Iran to stop centrifuge manufacturing, but I’m not sure the US is going to go there.'”