U.S. weighs broader nuke deal with Iran
BY Associated Press
Saturday, November 10, 2012
11/10/12 at 7:47 AM
The Obama administration is considering a new approach in negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program that would ease economic sanctions faster than previously offered if Tehran makes greater concessions than it has ever discussed. The proposal is one of several options being discussed before another round of negotiations between world powers and the Islamic republic, officials said Friday.
The strategizing is taking place amid an upsurge in diplomatic activity. The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency announced Friday talks of its own in Tehran in December. Negotiations bogged down last summer over permission to investigate sites for possible secret work on nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, top negotiators from the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia have agreed to meet Nov. 21 in Brussels, a Western official said, in a prelude to a possible resumption of talks between those countries and Iran early next year. By that time, the U.S. also could be wielding the threat of new and unprecedented sanctions against the Iranian economy that lawmakers in Congress are working on.
The basic contours of any negotiated solution are clear: U.S., European and other international sanctions would be eased if Iran halts its enrichment of uranium that is getting closer to weapons-grade, sends abroad its existing stockpile of such uranium and suspends operations at its underground Fordo facility.
But Iran's leadership has refused to bite on that approach, even as the value of its currency has plunged against the dollar, sparking an economic depression and massive public discontent.
That has prompted U.S. brainstorming on ways to reshape the offer to make it more attractive for the Iranians, without granting any new concessions that would reward the regime for its intransigence, administration officials said.
The administration sees Iran's refusal to comply with its nuclear obligations as the sole cause for the logjam. But officials say the administration is considering an expanded offer that includes a deeper and faster drawdown in the oil and other sanctions that are sapping the Iranian economy.
Those sanctions could be scaled back only if Tehran agrees to far greater concessions than it has ever hinted at on its fiercely-defended enrichment program. Details of the potential proposal are still unclear, but the premise is to craft a deal that allows both sides to avoid the appearance of caving in to the other's demands.
Original Print Headline: U.S. weighing broader nuclear deal with Iran