US Softens Tone on Iran

The United States and other world powers may be ready to allow Iran to keep some of its uranium enrichment program intact instead of demanding its complete dismantling, foreign government officials said Tuesday. According to a Reuters report, officials said some willingness to compromise might advance talks today in the Turkish capital between top Iranian envoy Ali Larijani and Javier Solana, the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

Recognizing that Iran would never accept a complete freeze, the powers are considering “a new definition of enrichment,” one diplomat said. Under the proposal, Iran could keep some of its program intact without actually producing enriched uranium.

Iran is running more than 1,300 centrifuge machines at its underground facility at Natanz. Its ultimate goal is to run 50,000 centrifuges in two years from now, enough to churn out material for a network of nuclear power generators.

The United States might accept a version of “cold standby” – allowing a set number of centrifuges to remain standing and assembled in series but not running, a diplomat said. Iran, he said, would likely push for keeping the machines operating, if not producing enriched uranium.

The six powers – United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – also want to reduce assembled and hooked-up centrifuges to less than 1,000.

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