2240 GMT: A (Temporary) Break in Service. Apologies for the limited updates today, as I have been at a mini-conference on Israel and Iran this afternoon and evening. Full service will resume tomorrow at 0600 GMT on Thursday.
2235 GMT: Nuclear Watch. The buzz on the Internet tonight is over this report of a shift in Iran's position on its nuclear programme:
Iran is considering a Russian proposal to halt the expansion of its nuclear program in order to avert new sanctions, the country’s envoy in Moscow said.
“We need to study this proposal and to establish on what basis it has been made,” Ambassador Mahmoud-Reza Sajjadi said in an interview at the Iranian embassy in Moscow today. The Russian plan, announced by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week, would let Iran avoid a European Union ban on its crude that is scheduled to come into force in July....
Iran might also be willing to ratify the so-called Additional Protocol, a step urged by the United Nations Security Council that includes more thorough inspections of Iranian facilities, as part of a wider settlement, Sajjadi said.
Under the Russian proposal, Iran would stop building centrifuges, machines used to enrich uranium, and mothball ones that haven’t been put into use yet.
We will have more tomorrow, but this appears to be an Iranian move towards the Russian "step-by-step" approach for the negotiations, with a freeze and then an easing of sanctions with each Iranian pull-back from an expanded enrichment programme and towards tighter international oversight.
Two points which are unclear: 1) Is Sajjadi speaking with full backing of the highest levels of the regime; 2) Will Iran pull back from its recently-acquired ability to enrich uranium to 20%, accepting a level such as 3.5% or 5%?