7 reasons not to worry about Iran's enrichment capacity

With less than six weeks before the deadline for a comprehensive nuclear deal, Washington should not be so focused on Iran’s breakout capability that it misses the best opportunity in a decade to resolve the standoff.

al-monitor Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) holds a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) on the second straight day of talks over Tehran's nuclear program in Vienna, July 14, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Jim Bourg.

Topics covered

uranium enrichment, sanctions, p5+1, nuclear negotiations, mohammad javad zarif, iran nuclear talks, iran, fatwa

Nov 4, 2014

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany are aiming to end the standoff over Iran's nuclear program by Nov. 24. Iranian and US officials have confirmed that progress was made in the extremely complicated nuclear talks in mid-October in Vienna.

“There was progress in all the fields. We still need serious discussions over various issues," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said following a six-hour meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in Vienna.

With less than six weeks to go, the future scope of Iran's production of enriched uranium, which can have both civilian and military use, remains the key sticking point. While Zarif, Kerry and Ashton are supposed to meet in Muscat Nov. 9-10 to discuss steps toward a comprehensive final deal, Washington should not derail the opportunity to reach a solution by overemphasizing its demand to limit Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

The progress achieved to date is unprecedented. US nuclear negotiator Wendy Sherman said Oct. 23, “We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text.” If a deal is not reached, it will mean no limits at all on Iran’s enrichment program and missing the best opportunity in a decade to resolve the nuclear standoff with Iran.

The following are seven reasons not to be too overly concerned about Iran’s breakout capability:

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