Analysts say Iran must eliminate 15,000 uranium centrifuges in any follow-on deal to a nuclear agreement launched on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Iran would also need to close its subterranean Qum uranium-enrichment facility, modify a heavy-water reactor capable of making plutonium, and agree to two decades of international nuclear surveillance, a new report from the Institute for Science and International Security recommends. The document, which received input from high-level U.S. government personnel, examines how the Middle Eastern nation could clear up international suspicions that it is pursuing a nuclear-arms capability.
Reaching a long-term deal to defuse such fears is the stated aim of a six-month accord reached in November by Iranian negotiators and counterparts from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. The new ISIS assessment assumes a final atomic deal would permit Iran to continue a degree of low-level uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes such as power production; however, a push is under way in the U.S. Senate to demand full elimination of Tehran's refinement efforts.
The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday confirmed key steps by Tehran to comply with the interim agreement, including suspension of uranium enrichment to a 20 percent purity suited for fast refinement into bomb material. Technicians severed key links between centrifuges that generated the sensitive substance, IAEA safeguards chief Tero Varjoranta stated in released comments.
"The dilution process of [Iran's stockpiled] 20 percent uranium has started and the conversion process of the same type of uranium is also ongoing," Varjoranta said, referring to Iran's commitment under the deal to convert existing 20 percent fuel to an oxide form less suited for producing bombs.
In exchange for short-term nuclear restrictions adopted by Iran, the U.S. State Department moved to curb selected economic penalties targeting the Persian Gulf regional power.
"We will be taking action to allow Iran to access, in installments, $4.2 billion of its restricted funds on a set schedule across the six months" of the interim accord, a senior State Department official said in comments to reporters. "Access to a portion of these funds will be linked to Iran’s progress in completing its dilution of 20 percent enriched uranium."