The White House is currently examining ways to enable Iran to have its own “domestic” uranium enrichment program, according to a senior Obama administration official.
As the details of a six month interim nuclear deal between Iran and Western nations are hashed out, the White House is exploring the practicality of permitting Iran to continue certain enrichment activities, an issue that Iranian officials have described as a “redline.”
“Over the next six months, we will explore, in practical terms, whether and how Iran might end up with a limited, tightly constrained, and intensively monitored civilian nuclear program, including domestic enrichment,” White House National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Caitlin Hayden told the Washington Free Beacon.
“Any such program,” she said, “would be subject to strict and verifiable curbs on its capacity and stockpiles of enriched uranium for a significant number of years and tied to practical energy needs that will remain minimal for years to come.”
The White House clarified its openness to a limited Iranian enrichment program just days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani promised to “forge ahead” with the country’s controversial nuclear program.
Rouhani stated over the weekend that Iran’s contested enrichment program would “never stop” despite the regime’s promise to eventually halt most nuclear activities for a period of six months under an interim agreement inked two weeks ago in Geneva.
The deal reached in Geneva would provide Iran up to $7 billion dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for a temporary halt to some of its nuclear activities, including the enrichment of nuclear fuel to high-grade levels.
Iran’s right to enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, had been a key sticking point in Geneva. Many in Congress say that Iran should be forced to dismantle its entire nuclear program and be prohibited from all enrichment activities.
Asked about Rouhani’s promise to continue enriching uranium-a promise echoed by other senior Iranian officials-the White House’s Hayden told the Free Beacon that “the United States does not recognize that Iran has a ‘right to enrich.'”
However, “the Iranian people should have access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes,” Hayden said, echoing recent comments made by Obama.
The precise requirements of the interim deal with Iran have yet to be finalized, the White House told the Free Beacon last week. This means that Iran is not yet beholden to the six-month nuclear freeze negotiated as part of the deal.
Read more at FREE BEACON.