Jeffrey LewisParis Negotiations Update 2: Iran Stalling Until After the Election

How do we read the most recent Iranian objection to the European porposal to suspend its enrichment program in exchange for nuclear technology?

Some have suggested it is conclusive evidence the mullahs are hell bent on the bomb; ArmsControlWonk would suggest something else—I believe that Tehran (which is very likely divided on this issue) is stalling to see if the upcoming presidential election produces a coherent US policy. Come to think of it, I am waiting to see if that happens, too.

Now, Reuters is reporting that talks between Iran and Europe will resume on November 5, with hints that Iran will agree to an interim suspension of uranium enrichment by November 10 in order to avoid referral to the Security Council.

Not surprisingly, the Iranians opening position is to put the whole thing off for two or three months: “Their opening gambit was for the suspension to last two or three months,” a diplomat told Reuters.

Until the US gets a policy, hard-liners are going to have one hell of an argument about not trusting the Euros. Apparently, the hard-liners are feeling the need to make that point, passing a bill in parliament stating, “the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is required to make use of scientists and the country’s facilities … in order to enable the country to master peaceful nuclear technology, including the cycle of nuclear fuel.” The bill does not direct the government to resume uranium enrichment or end U.N. inspections.

On a related note, Hossein Mousavian—“Iran’s top nuclear negotiator”—got weirdly numerical, estimating the chances of a deal at 50 percent and sanctions, in the event of no-deal, at 10 percent.

IQ Test: Using Mousavian’s estimates, what is the probability that Iran and Europe will not reach a deal but the Security Council will not impose sanctions?

0.90×0.50 = 0.45

Note: The titles of all posts regarding the Iran-EU3 negotiations have been given the prefix “Paris Negotiations Update n.”