Last month, representatives of the "5+1″ group met with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, in Geneva in an effort to defuse the international crisis over its nuclear program. Well, we finally have Iran's formal answer to the West's diplomatic overture — and it's just what should have been expected.
On August 5th, days after the official deadline for an Iranian response had passed, the European Union's foreign policy czar, Javier Solana received the Islamic Republic's counteroffer. It states, in part:
Now the Islamic Republic of Iran is ready to provide a 'clear response' to your proposal at the earliest opportunity while simultaneously expecting to receive your 'clear response' to our questions and ambiguities as well.
Undoubtedly such mutual clarification can pave the way for a speedy and transparent negotiating process with a bright prospect and provide grounds for cooperation.
The second phase in negotiations can commence as early as possible if there is such willingness on your side.
Notice the rhetorical feint. The "5+1″ offer given to Iran in June declared that formal negotiations between Iran and the 5+1 group "can start as soon as Iran's enrichment-related and reprocessing activities are suspended." But in its new letter, Iran talks about transitioning to the "second phase in negotiations" without doing anything of the sort. All of which, of course, would help keep Iran's nuclear program intact despite international pressure.