LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The United States is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites, officials have told The Associated Press.
The trade-off would allow Iran to run several hundred of the devices at its Fordo facility, although the Iranians would not be allowed to do work that could lead to an atomic bomb and the site would be subject to international inspections, according to Western officials familiar with details of negotiations now underway. In return, Iran would be required to scale back the number of centrifuges it runs at its Natanz facility and accept other restrictions on nuclear-related work.
As negotiations stand, the number of centrifuges would grow to more than 6,000, when the other site is included. Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran nuclear file as a deputy director general of the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency until 2010, says even 6,000 operating centrifuges would be “a big number.”
Asked of the significance of hundreds more at Fordo, he said, “Every machine counts.”