Analysts Praise Possible U.S. Offer in Iran Standoff, Despite Concerns

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Oct. 18, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

U.S. ana­lysts praised Pres­id­ent Obama’s pro­pos­al to free up some of Ir­an’s for­eign fin­an­cial as­sets in a swap for pos­sible ini­tial curbs on the na­tion’s dis­puted nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies, though one ex­pert ques­tioned wheth­er such an of­fer would be enough for Ir­a­ni­an ne­go­ti­at­ors seek­ing more en­dur­ing re­lief from eco­nom­ic pen­al­ties, the New York Times re­por­ted.

The new ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fer — re­por­ted on Wed­nes­day and de­scribed on Thursday by a high-level ad­min­is­tra­tion in­sider to the Times — would gradu­ally un­freeze Ir­a­ni­an money in in­ter­na­tion­al ac­counts as the Middle East­ern na­tion takes early steps to as­sure oth­er coun­tries that its atom­ic activ­it­ies are not geared to­ward pur­suit of a nuc­le­ar-bomb cap­ab­il­ity.

At a two-day meet­ing in Geneva this week, Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mats briefed the United States and five oth­er coun­tries on its pro­pos­al to ad­opt un­dis­closed nuc­le­ar re­stric­tions in ex­change for curbs on in­ter­na­tion­al sanc­tions. Pos­sible spe­cif­ics from the of­fer emerged in a Thursday al-Mon­it­or re­port, which cites in­form­a­tion from an un­named Ir­a­ni­an in­sider.

Mark Dubowitz, an au­thor­ity on pun­it­ive eco­nom­ic meas­ures, warned that “if the ad­min­is­tra­tion takes out a brick from the sanc­tions re­gime,” it might not be pos­sible “to put it back to­geth­er.”

The re­por­ted pro­pos­al to un­freeze Ir­a­ni­an as­sets of­fers “a way to provide non­sanc­tions fin­an­cial re­lief to give the ad­min­is­tra­tion flex­ib­il­ity dur­ing the ne­go­ti­ations,” said Dubowitz, who heads the Found­a­tion for De­fense of Demo­cra­cies.

Former U.S. na­tion­al se­cur­ity of­fi­cial Ray Takeyh, though, said “the Ir­a­ni­ans are look­ing for fun­da­ment­al sanc­tions re­lief.”

“I’m not sure wheth­er they’d ac­cept phased ac­cess to their own money,” said Takeyh, now a Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions seni­or fel­low.

The Ir­a­ni­an cur­rency plan fol­lows a pri­or of­fer to ease gold-trade sanc­tions if the Per­sian Gulf power shuttered its Qum fa­cil­ity, which houses weapon-us­able urani­um activ­it­ies in an un­der­ground loc­a­tion sheltered from po­ten­tial air­strikes. Tehran dis­missed the gold-trade pro­pos­al earli­er this year.

Ac­cord­ing to le­gis­lat­ive in­siders, a bill to fur­ther tight­en Ir­an sanc­tions could reach the Sen­ate floor shortly be­fore a sched­uled Nov. 7-8 fol­low-up meet­ing of Ir­a­ni­an dip­lo­mats and coun­ter­parts from China, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, the United King­dom and the United States.

Rep­res­ent­at­ive Trent Franks (R-Ar­iz.) on Tues­day in­tro­duced sep­ar­ate le­gis­la­tion aimed at in­creas­ing pres­sure on Tehran.

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