Washington mulls presenting Iran with a "Chinese menu" of options


As the United States prepares for the next round of international Iran nuclear talks in Baghdad, Washington is considering a negotiating approach that would offer Iran a “Chinese menu” of options: in essence, the more concessions on the nuclear front that Iran agrees to, the more the West would be prepared to offer in return, Barbara Slavin and I report.

But as the report further details at length, of concern is whether the West has enough flexibility by way of sanctions relief it can or would offer Iran to try to reach a deal:

…Other sources briefed on the deliberations have described the current thinking as presenting Iran with a “Chinese menu” of options. If Iran agrees, for example, to suspend 20 percent enrichment, send out its stockpile of that uranium and stop operations at Fordo, then it would get X, Y, and Z: hypothetically, fuel for the Tehran research reactor, suspension of E.U. oil sanctions and perhaps spare Boeing parts for its civilian aircraft. If Iran agrees to just one or two of the concessions, it might get just fuel for the reactor.

The lead US negotiator to the P5+1, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, has been given discretion to negotiate based on such a menu of options, whose exact nature is being closely held. Western negotiators are hoping more may be worked out at preparatory meetings prior to the Baghdad talks which are to be led by the EU’s Helga Schmid and Iran’s Ali Bagheri and conducted with a minimum of publicity.

“We’re expecting to have some preparatory meetings at a lower level,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing Monday.  …

The Iranians, Nuland added, “have got to come forward with a plan.  We would be prepared to respond to real concrete steps, but we have to agree on what those are going to be.  And then we have to go from there.”

Here's a link to the full piece.