The U.S. and its Western allies are pressing Iran to take steps to sharply cut the amount of radioactive material it holds in a bid to shore up last year’s nuclear deal and discourage the incoming Trump administration from abandoning it, Western officials said.
The discussions about reducing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium started months ago, officials said, and are among a number of measures the Obama administration has been examining to fortify the accord in its final months in office. But the initiative has taken on new urgency since the election of President-elect Donald Trump created fresh uncertainty around the deal.
If agreed upon, the plan could reduce the odds of a sudden flashpoint between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s implementation of the deal once Mr. Trump takes office, Western officials say, by reducing its enriched-uranium stockpile well below the cap agreed to in the 2015 accord.
Officials say the plan would also lengthen, for a while, Iran’s so-called breakout time—the amount of time it would take the country to accumulate enough material for one nuclear weapon were it to quit or violate the deal—though it is unclear by how much. The constraints of the nuclear agreement are currently set up to ensure it would take Iran at least a year to produce the ingredients for a nuclear weapon.
Neither the Trump transition team nor Iranian officials immediately responded to requests for comment on the initiative.