Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Iran Slows Buildup of Near-Weapons-Grade Enriched Uranium

The Biden administration hopes to see Iran stop accumulating highly enriched uranium as a step to lower tensions

LONDON—Iran has significantly slowed the pace at which it is accumulating near-weapons-grade enriched uranium and has diluted some of its stockpile, people briefed on the matter said Friday, moves that could help ease tensions with the U.S. and allow the resumption of broader talks over its controversial nuclear program.

The more slowly Tehran accumulates highly enriched uranium, the less potential fissile material it has for nuclear weapons.

The news comes a day after Iran released four U.S. citizens from prison into house arrest, the first step in a planned prisoner swap that Washington expects will eventually see them return home. If the U.S. detainees are set free, Iran will gain access to billions of dollars of oil revenues trapped in South Korea under U.S. sanctions.

U.S. and European officials have told Iran that if there is de-escalation of tensions over the summer, they would be open to broader talks later this year, including on Iran’s nuclear program. 

For the Biden administration, the hope is to avoid any major crisis with Tehran in the lead-up to next year’s presidential elections. Critics in Washington and elsewhere say the U.S. is preparing to reward Iran for taking U.S. citizens hostage and for a minor pause in its nuclear work while Tehran ramps up regional threats and supplies military assistance to Russia for its war against Ukraine…..