A Win-Win Formula for Defining Iran's Uranium-Enrichment Capacity

By Kelsey Davenport
August 2014

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As negotiators prepare to resume talks over Iran's nuclear program, they face a formidable task: to bridge the remaining gaps and reach a comprehensive nuclear deal by November 24. Perhaps the most difficult issue Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) must resolve is how to define the size and scope of Iran's uranium enrichment program.

To achieve a win-win outcome the two sides must develop a creative, technically sound formula that increases the time it would take for Iran to enrich uranium to weapons grade, while still providing Tehran with a modest program that allows domestic production of enriched uranium to contribute to fueling future civilian reactors and allows research and development to advance centrifuge technology.

In collaboration with the International Crisis Group, the Arms Control Association has developed a proposal to define Iran's uranium enrichment program in a manner that meets the fundamental concerns of both Tehran and the P5+1. The proposal is the product of feedback from a number of technical and political experts. While this may not be "the solution" to the enrichment puzzle, the proposal offers constructive options for the negotiators to consider.