We open our Iran Live Coverage today with this assessment, "Western strategy is no longer seeking --- if it ever did --- a negotiated compromise with the Islamic Republic. Instead, the US, Britain, France, and probably Germany perceive that Iran may crack under economic pressure to the point of accepting their demands."
Laura Rozen explains for Al Monitor as she decodes the latest message from the West's negotiators:
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told her Iranian counterpart Thursday that Iran needs to agree soon on a plan to stop its 20% enrichment, or there wasn’t much prospect of the current diplomatic track continuing as such indefinitely.
That, anyway, seemed to be the message between the lines of a stark four-line statement she made after a phone call Thursday with Dr. Saeed Jalili, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. Her statement, (and my annotations) below:
“Since these talks resumed in April, I …have explored diplomatic ways to resolve international concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme,” Ashton said in the statement. (Note the use of the past progressive tense: “have explored diplomatic ways” – and the sense it suggests that it might not continue.)
“I impressed the need for Iran now to address the issues we have raised in order to build confidence,” Ashton said. (Emphasis on “now,” Note also the agency: Iran has to be the one to move.)
“I proposed, and Dr Jalili agreed, that we talk again after further reflection at the end of the month.” (“Further reflection” being code for – think about it for a few weeks and discuss with Iran policymakers and let me know your answer at the end of the month.)
Yes, the few week delay may also, conveniently enough, give diplomats a few days for August vacation. But the underlying message seems pretty stark: the diplomatic track may be winding down without a sign of seriousness from Iran.
“We are doubling down on the dual track,” a European diplomat told me last week, a reference to focusing on the sanctions/pressure track while keeping the diplomatic channel open at least .
Separately,, the U.S., for one, won’t agree to another P5+1 political directors meeting with Iran, unless there’s serious signs of progress to close a deal,