0730 GMT: Nuclear Watch. It was a Sunday of confusion on the nuclear front, as Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made the prominent --- but conflicting --- news.
All week, both Iran and the 5+1 Powers (US, Britain, China, Russia, Germany, and France) had put out signals of a willingness to return to the table. Washington even responded to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani's assurance that there were no "red lines" on bilateral talks --- Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday that he would welcome the direct contact with Tehran.
Despite all this, my projection was that --- given weeks of inability to agree on a venue and date for the resumption of discussions, with each side blaming the other --- we would have to wait until autumn for any high-level session betweetn Iran and the 5+1.
Then on Sunday, Salehi appeared to prove me wrong. He welcomed the announcement that the 5+1 would gather in Kazakhstan on 25 February. State outlet Press TV headlined, "Iran, P5+1 to meet on Feb. 25 in Kazakhstan: Salehi". Some Western press put out the good news.
But had the Foreign Minister really said that Tehran would be at the table? His initial statement was only that he was glad the other six Powers would assemble, not that Iran would join them.
Apart from Press TV, no Iranian State outlet proclaimed agreement. Instead, there was a confusion of Salehi's messages: "'Threats, Invitation to Talks Inconsistent"; "Iran, US Talks Not Forbidden Zone".
Our best assessment this morning is that the declaration of Iranian agreement was premature, based on an exaggeration of Salehi's remarks welcoming the 5+1 gathering in Kazakhstan. Press TV's "rogue" article declaring Tehran's acceptance was a recycling of the stories in the Western press, rather than a confirmation from the regime.
But that is only a best assessment. This morning we still do not know what has and has not been agreed.EA WorldView: EA Iran