"The United States and five other major powers are prepared to offer Iran a series of incentives to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium," senior Obama administration officials were quoted as saying by the New York Times, Saturday.
Heading into what has been defined as a "crucial round" in the West's nuclear negotiations with Iran, held in Baghdad, Iraq, the officials said that such gestures may allow Iran to back down while saving face.
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The incentives, in form of trade mitigations, are likely to include easing restrictions on technical assistance to Iran's energy industry, but will exclude the biting oil embargo imposed in the Islamic Republic's crude industry.
The West's comprehensive oil sanctions are expected to go into effect in July.
Iran is desperately seeking to avoid, or at least significantly alleviate, the oil sanctions – a fact US negotiators believe may make Tehran more amenable to exploring a diplomatic solution.
Still, while some officials said existing sanctions, compounded by a recent drop in oil prices, may make Iran more willing to make concessions, others downplayed the prospect of a major breakthrough.
Regardless of the actual outcome, a Washington official told the newspaper that "At a minimum, the Baghdad meeting should be a genuine test of Iran’s willingness to do more than talk.
"They’re nervous enough to talk... Whether they’re nervous enough to act, we don’t know yet," the official said.
Meanwhile, as a possible sign of increased diplomatic efforts, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that its director general, Yukiya Amano, would travel to Tehran on Sunday to try to negotiate access to one of Iran's contested military sites.
It would be the first visit by the agency’s head to Iran since 2009, and it could add to the momentum in Baghdad.
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