Washington (CNN) - The Obama administration is prepared to allow Iran to engage in a "limited enrichment program" if Tehran holds up its end of an international agreement to curtail its nuclear capabilities under stringent global oversight, the White House confirmed Tuesday.
"We are prepared to negotiate a strictly limited enrichment program," Obama administration national security spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement.
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"But only because the Iranians have indicated for the first time in a public document that they are prepared to accept rigorous monitoring and limits on level, scope, capacity, and stockpiles," the statement added.
Meehan cautioned the administration's agreement to any limited enrichment program in Iran applies only to that nation's peaceful energy "needs" and does not amount to U.S. recognition of an Iranian "right to enrich."
The White House statement was in large part a reaction to questions raised about an international agreement brokered last month with Iran over its nuclear program.
"We have accepted Iranian uranium enrichment," retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, told Fox News Sunday when asked about the deal reached between Iran and the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany.
Meehan said any limited enrichment program in Iran would still be subject to the approval of those so-called "P5+1" nations.
"If we can reach an understanding on all of these strict constraints, then we can have an arrangement that includes a very modest amount of enrichment that is tied to Iran's actual needs and that eliminates any near-term breakout capability," Meehan said in the statement.
Asked about Iran's uranium enrichment ambitions, which the United States and others fear could lead to the development of a nuclear bomb, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Obama believes Iran "has the right to peaceful nuclear energy."
"What the President has also made clear is that he is adamantly opposed to and will not allow for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that is the threat that has been posed by Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions," Carney said.