Even though Iran has yet to respond to an invitation for the P5+1 talks that are now only a few weeks away, officials in the Obama administration are leaking details to the New York Times of an offer that could be on the table.
David Sanger, who I’m told views himself as something of a player, has the scoop:
A senior American official said Wednesday that the United States and its partners were “very close to having an agreement” on a common position to present to Iran. […]
The new offer would require Iran to send more than 4,400 pounds of low-enriched uranium out of the country, an increase of more than two-thirds from the amount required under a tentative deal struck in Vienna a year ago. The increase reflects the fact that Iran has steadily produced more uranium over the past year, and the American goal is to make sure that Iran has less than one bomb’s worth of uranium on hand.
Iran would also have to halt all production of nuclear fuel that it is currently enriching to 20 percent — an important step on the way to bomb-grade levels. It would also have to make good on its agreement to negotiate on the future of its nuclear program.
While it was Iran that rejected the Vienna deal, it was Washington that dismissed a later, watered-down fuel swap deal known as the Tehran Declaration.
As Eli previously reported, the P5+1 has supported the Vienna Group fuel swap deal, over the Turkish and Brazilian mediated Tehran Declaration deal. Iran favors the latter deal, which even some eminent U.S. foreign policy figures have called a good “first step.”
Those positions hold. But bridging them — which depends heavily on both sides’ red lines — does not seem an impossible task.
Nonetheless, Sanger quotes an unnamed U.S. official who says that Iran’s response to the deal will indicate to the Obama administration “whether the Iranians still think they can tough it out or are ready to negotiate.”