In June 2009, Nicoullaud signed a statement with five other former European ambassadors to Iran recalling that in 2005 "Iran was ready to discuss a ceiling limit for the number of its centrifuges and to maintain its rate of enrichment far below the high levels necessary for weapons," but that "the Europeans and the Americans wanted to compel Iran to forsake its enrichment program entirely."
Jenkins recalled that he was aware that no proposal, no matter how forthcoming on assurances against diversion of LEU to a nuclear weapon, would be acceptable to the British government if it involved a resumption of enrichment. "I knew in my heart of hearts that this was a waste of time -- that it would not fly," he recalled.
"The British objective was to eliminate entirely Iran's enrichment capability," Jenkins said. "I remember we couldn't even allow Iran to have 20 centrifuges for R&D (research and development) purposes, because we ourselves had mastered the technology with even fewer than that."
The Iranians had made clear to the European Three that they could not agree to any loss of their right to enrich, according to Jenkins, but the Europeans hoped that it was merely an opening negotiating position.
"I don't think we realized fully in March 2005 that Iran was not prepared to give up enrichment as the price of a settlement," Jenkins recalled. "We believed that if we could come up with sufficient Incentives and scare Iran with the threat of referral to the (United Nations) Security Council, they would give in."
After reading Mousavian's minutes of the meeting with Nicoullaud, the Supreme Leader instructed his nuclear policy coordinator, Hassan Rowhani, to restart the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan. Iran had included the conversion facility in its suspension of enrichment activities only with great reluctance under the pressure of the European negotiators.
Meanwhile, Mousavian made the rounds to try to persuade the Europeans to accept an Iranian offer to ensure that it would not divert uranium to nuclear weapons. He recalls offering his German counterpart Michael Schaefer in Berlin yet another proposal that had not yet been cleared by Iranian leaders.
Under the Mousavian proposal, Iran would have resumed uranium conversion at the Isfahan plant but would have exported its product to "an agreed-upon country" in exchange for yellowcake, the form uranium takes prior to enrichment.
At a later stage of the proposal, Iran would have begun enrichment at Natanz with some 3,000 centrifuges, but again would have exported all the enriched uranium to "an agreed-upon country".
While those extraordinary arrangements were being carried out, Mousavian proposed, negotiations on a "final compromise" on "objective guarantees of non-diversion" and EU "firm guarantees" on comprehensive relations with Iran would continue for a maximum of one year, and that Iran would adopt a timetable for enrichment agreed upon with the EU "based on Iran's fuel requirements."
Schafer encouraged Mousavian to pursue the proposal with the French and British, and French political director Stanislas Lefabvre Laboulaye told him it would depend on the British response. But Mousavian writes that British director general for political affairs John Sawers told him that the Bush administration "would never tolerate the operation of even one centrifuge in Iran."
After his round of meetings with the Europeans, Mousavian was informed by Rowhani that the package he had proposed had been accepted by the Iranian leadership, based on a minimum of 3,000 centrifuges and a one-year limit on the negotiations. But a third condition was that the Europeans had to agree on the plan before the August Iranian presidential election.
The third condition suggests that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did not want either of the two presidential candidates, Hashemi Rafsanjani or Mahmound Ahmadinejad, to get credit for the agreement with the Europeans.
The conversion of the bulk of Iranian low enriched uranium (LEU) to fuel rods after being exported to France or Russia was the basis for the Barack Obama administration's diplomatic proposal to Iran in October 2009.
The Ahmadinejad government negotiated with the U.S. and European diplomats on the proposal, but in the end Iran was not willing to part with as much as 80 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium without getting any change in U.S. policy in return.
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