Iran ready to suspend enrichment if sanctions are dropped?

I’ll believe it when I see it, but in the meantime let the debate begin. If they follow through, is it a lesson about diplomatic power or, per the IAF’s saber-rattling of late, military power? Or, better yet, diplomatic power backed by credible military threats? That’s always been the real issue with Obama wanting to chat with Ahmadinejad et al — not that he’s willing to wave a carrot but that, the left being what it is these days, there’s no stick in his other hand.

Iran expressed readiness to freeze its uranium enrichment program in return for lifting the international sanctions imposed on it, Channel 2 analyst Ehud Ya’ari revealed Thursday evening.

He cited unnamed Western officials as the source of the new development…

The unconfirmed report Thursday comes after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed scorn at the West’s sanctions and said Iran will push on with its nuclear program despite them.

Anyone believe they’re serious? They’ve been selling the idea of nuclear energy as their “inalienable right” to the Iranian public for years now. How do they back down under economic pressure without completely losing face? And why would they hand Bush a victory like this when all they have to do is wait him out for another seven months? Just sit tight for now and then next year, if/when Obama takes office, make the concession of suspending enrichment to reward America’s new dovish, all-stick-no-carrot approach. If they’re unwilling to do that I can only assume either (a) those sanctions are hurting them a lot more than we thought or (b) this story is pure crap.

Update: Corroboration?

In Tehran, Ali Akbar Velayati, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned against “provocative” remarks on the nuclear crisis, although whether he meant remarks like the ones for which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become known is debatable.

Meanwhile, in New York, Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, struck a soft tone during a press luncheon at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, and refused to repeat Iran’s usual statement that it would never give up its right to uranium enrichment, although he was asked about it directly four times.