By now, most of you have probably seen “the AP,”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060911/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iran_nuclear_47 “Reuters,”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/nuclear_iran_dc and “AFP”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060911/wl_mideast_afp/irannuclearpoliticsenrichment_060911110202reports reports that, during a meeting b/t Solana and Larijani, the latter said that Iran would consider suspending its enrichment program for up to two months.
“Another AP article”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060911/ap_on_re_mi_ea/nuclear_iran_3&printer=1
and “this AFP piece”:http://www.spacewar.com/2006/060911175213.a4onwrp3.html offered some more details.
According to the 2nd AP story, a “diplomat familiar with the issue” said that the Iranians “are essentially seeking assurances that they would not be bombed while they are talking.”
For its part, AFP makes Larijani’s offer sound decidedly unappealing:
In giving details of a closed-door meeting between top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani and European foreign policy chief Javier Solana last weekend in Vienna, the diplomat said Iran “had a long list (of conditions) including (a) complete and total halt in activity at the UN Security Council, an absolute stepping down from going for sanctions and that Iran would have the right to nuclear fuel technology on its soil.”
“In return for this, Larijani said the Iranians would consider, consider not actually carry out, a two-month halt in enrichment. It was all very conditional,” the diplomat said, in relating a briefing from Solana.
There was not any new offer on the table from the Iranians. It was all incredibly conditional and all temporary,” the diplomat said, adding that the suspension would come before negotiations.
With respect to Iran’s reaction,”AFP reported that”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060911/wl_mideast_afp/irannuclearpoliticsenrichment_060911110202that Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, denied that Larijani made the suspension offer.
The “response from Iran’s MFA”:http://www.mfa.gov.ir/output/INDEX.HTM seemed a little softer to me:
Referring to suspension of Iran uranium enrichment activities as a precondition for resumption of nuclear talks), the spokesman said
“The era of suspension is over. The question of the suspension (of uranium enrichment) is a thing of the past.”
“Iran will not take a step back,” stressed the official.
He added, “If the Europeans have points of view (about suspension) we are ready to hear them, but we, too, have questions to ask,” Asefi stressed.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi expressed hope on Sunday in the second round of Larijani-Solana talks in Vienna, the European side “will adopt a reasonable policy.”Asefi was referring to the nuclear talks between Iran`s Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Larijani and the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Javier Solana in the Austrian capital.
The two officials held the first round of their talks on Saturday behind closed doors. Addressing domestic and foreign reporters at his weekly press briefing, Asefi described the talks as “good”.
However, the spokesman warned “If the Europeans insist on improper grounds during the second round of talks (due to begin within hours Sunday), then the case would proceed in another way.”
“In the nuclear case we enjoy some rights that we pursue them in the talks,” Asefi stressed.
He expressed hope the second round of Larijani-Solana talks would lead to “mutually agreed upon” consequences.
Obviously, other details RE: scope and duration will need to be seen before one can render a proper judgment on Iran’s offer. I would note that, during its previous negotiations with the E3 (and prior to restarting its conversion facility in August 2005), Iran failed to make good on more than one threat to abandon its suspension agreement.