Iran Package: Two Ships in the Night

Last week the Iranians passed on a mysterious plan for resolving the standoff over its uranium enrichment program to a visiting Russian delegation. On Friday, the EU3+3 agreed on an equally mysterious package of incentives aimed at getting Iran to halt its program. That looked to me like the makings of a round of negotiations, but according to an informed European source, the EU3+3 package has been in the works for the past few months, and Russian FM Sergei Lavrov made no mention of the Iranian proposal during the meetings.

So far, the only thing that’s been revealed about the EU3+3 package is that it maintains the demand that Iran freeze its enrichment program as a pre-condition to further negotiations. Beyond that, it builds on the previous package of incentives offered in 2006, including more “precise and detailed” offers in the areas of energy, trade and investment and regional security. But given that both Ayatollah Khamenei and Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki declared over the weekend that any suspension of uranium enrichment represents a “forbidden zone” for Tehran, it’s hard to see this going anywhere. Unless, that is, the “sweeteners” in the West’s package include some new formulation of “freeze” that allows Iran to save face.

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