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June 6, 2005
Iran Waiting For An Opening?

With the United States holding a WTO membership as a carrot, the Iranians have offered to maintain their delay on uranium enrichment until the end of July, giving the Europeans a few more weeks to reach a deal with them on nuclear non-proliferation:

Iran said it will extend its suspension of uranium enrichment until the end of July to give European negotiators time to prepare a proposal it can accept, but Tehran also warned against wasting the opportunity to strike a deal.

The announcement Sunday followed Iran's agreement last month to review a European Union proposal for a new round of negotiations in the summer. Tehran's decision injects some breathing space into the international crisis over its nuclear program, at least temporarily. ...

Aghamohammadi called on the Europeans to firm up the agreement reached between Iran and the Europeans last November in Paris, which committed Tehran to suspension of enrichment and all related activities while the two sides discuss a pact meant to provide Iran with EU technical and economic aid and other concessions. Since then, the two sides have sparred over the exact terms of the agreement.

Previously, the Iranians had insisted that they would only consider a halt on uranium enrichment as temporary in order to complete a treaty on nuclear use in Iran with Europe. The WTO offer from the US may have softened that stance somewhat, for two reasons. First, the Iranians need that WTO membership in order to avoid tariffs and other costs for trade that put it at considerable disadvantage in the region. Second, the softer approach by the US may have sent a signal that the Bush administration was not going to allow Iran to split the Western alliance.

The White House's change of tone intends to make Europe accountable for Iran in the short run, and Europe understands that its credibility depends of verification of the Iranian nuclear position. Meanwhile, the US intends on focusing its efforts on democratization and mobilizing the growing groundswell of discontent with the mullahcracy in Teheran. As Iran comes ever closer to the tipping point, the Bush administration wants to be sure that the American touch that triggers it is as light as possible.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 6, 2005 6:41 AM

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