If this leak is supported by senior figures in Washington, this is a significant move from the US Government in the nuclear negotiations:
In a major concession, Obama administration officials say they could support allowing Iran to continue a crucial element of its disputed nuclear program if the government in Tehran took other major steps to curb its ability to develop a nuclear bomb.
The officials told the Los Angeles Times they might agree to let Tehran continue enriching uranium up to concentrations of 5% if the Iranian government agreed to unrestricted inspections, and strict oversight and safeguards that the United Nations long has demanded.
Iran has begun enriching small amounts of uranium to 20% purity in February 2010 for what it contends are peaceful purposes, although most of its stockpile is purified at lower levels. Uranium can be used as bomb fuel at about 90% enrichment.
This is the first time that Washington has not only acknowledged the principle of Iran enriching uranium on its territory but also put a number on the level. And, coincidentally or otherwise, that 5% figure matches what EA was told this week by a knowledgeable British source.
Still, this is a long way from a deal. The Los Angeles Times, beneficiary of the leak, only sees part of the story: "The proposed shift in the U.S. position is likely to prompt strong objections from some officials in Israel, from presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and from some members of Congress who have staked out more aggressive positions than the Obama administration."
Just as significant is this question: will Iran, with its new-found capability to enrich to 20%, be willing to pull back to 5%? And if so, what will it seek in return from the US and European powers?