For Immediate Release: June 9, 2014
Media Contacts: Zia Mian, Princeton University, 609-258-5468; Alexander Glaser, Princeton University, 609-258-5692; Daryl G. Kimball, publisher, Arms Control Today, 202-463-8270 x107.
(Washington, D.C.)--A new proposal published today by four Princeton University researchers in the journal Arms Control Today offers possible solutions for how the P5+1 powers (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and Iran can resolve their differences on one of the most difficult elements in a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program: limits on uranium-enrichment capacity.
Senior U.S. and Iranian officials hold bilateral talks today and tomorrow in Geneva. The next round of P5+1 talks with Iran will be held June 16-20 in Vienna. Negotiators aim to reach an agreement by July 20.
Iranian officials insist that their country's nuclear fuel needs will grow in the coming years and will require an increase in uranium enrichment capacity.
The United States and its P5+1 partners, however, believe that Iran can meet its civil nuclear fuel requirements with less than the number of gas centrifuge machines it is operating today.
In the Arms Control Today article, the Princeton team "proposes a compromise based on a two-stage approach that involves Iran maintaining a capacity for enriching a small amount of uranium annually for research reactor fuel in the short term and developing a potential enrichment capacity appropriate to fuel power reactors in the longer term."
The article, "Agreeing on Limits for Iran's Centrifuge Program: A Two-Stage Strategy," was written by Alexander Glaser, Zia Mian, former Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian, and former White House science official Frank von Hippel. They are members of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University.
The authors suggest that during the next five years, Iran "could phase out its first-generation machines in favor of a smaller number of second-generation centrifuges," some of which it has installed but are not yet operating. The authors also propose that later-generation centrifuges would not need to be assembled, except for test machines.
The authors note that Iran's requirements for enrichment could grow by 2021 if Tehran decides to fuel the existing Bushehr power reactor domestically rather than renewing its fuel supply contract with Russia or buying fuel from another foreign supplier.
"To maintain the confidence of the international community that there will be no diversion of centrifuge components to a secret enrichment plant," the authors recommend that "the current transparency measures that Iran has undertaken for its centrifuge program would continue. These transparency measures should become the standard for transparency for centrifuge production worldwide."
This strategy will "create a window of time to devise a multinational arrangement that could provide a long-term solution to the proliferation concerns raised by national enrichment plants in the Middle East and elsewhere," they say.
"Solving the Iranian uranium-enrichment challenge will require creative ideas and solutions that address the concerns of both sides in this complex negotiation," noted Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association and publisher of Arms Control Today.
"We hope concepts presented in this article stimulate fresh thinking about how to resolve this urgent international security challenge," he said.
The article, "Agreeing on Limits for Iran's Centrifuge Program: A Two-Stage Strategy," will appear in the July/August edition of Arms Control Today.
Arms Control Today is the monthly journal published by the Arms Control Association, an independent nongovernmental organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.