Iran Proposal Signals Shift in U.S. Stance

In case you haven’t seen it yet, ISIS (via Laura Rozen) has posted an English-language version (.pdf) of the EU3+3 Iran proposal I referred to yesterday. And in comparing it to the last concrete offer made in June 2006, it’s very clear that the major difference is in the political incentives added to sweeten the deal. Here’s the political component, circa 2006:

Support for a new conference to promote dialogue and cooperation on regional security issues.

Here’s the same section from this week’s offer:

-Improving the six countries’ and the EU’s relations with Iran and building up mutual trust.
-Encouragement of direct contact and dialogue with Iran.
-Support Iran in playing an important and constructive role in international affairs.
-Promotion of dialogue and cooperation on non-proliferation, regional security and stabilisation issues.
-Work with Iran and others in the region to encourage confidence-building measures and regional security.
-Establishment of appropriate consultation and cooperation mechanisms.
-Support for a conference on regional security issues.
-Reaffirmation that a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to non-proliferation efforts and to relaizing the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.
-Reaffirmation of the obligation under the UN Charter to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.
-Cooperation on Afghnaistan, including on intensified cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking; support for programmes on the return of Afghan refugees to Afghanistan; cooperation on reconstruction of Afghanistan; cooperation on guarding the Iran-Afghan border.

I was a little lazy last night about tracking down the 2006 offer. My bad. There’s obviously no guarantee that the negotiations will bear fruit, and the uranium freeze (Iran’s red line) is still a pre-condition. But keep in mind that the above paragraph bears Condoleezza Rice’s signature on behalf of the United States. That, to me, constitutes at least the suggestion of a pretty broad engagement.

That might explain why Iran has declared that it will examine the proposal carefully. Given that the Ayatollah Khamenei, who will ultimately mae the decision, has already expressed that any engagement with the U.S. would have to wait for the next administration, it’s very possible that they’ll either play for time or flat out reject it. But this is a pretty big shift, even if it is only one on paper for the time being.