DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran has floated specific dates for reopening talks with the United States and other world powers about its nuclear program. At the same time, Tehran has left U.N. nuclear inspectors empty-handed when it comes to addressing Western suspicions that it's conducting tests related to nuclear weapons.
Iran's split personality over creating space for possible nuclear concessions has complicated calculations by Washington and allies on whether to head back into negotiations more than six months after the last round ended in stalemate. But it also offers insight into Tehran's strategy as Western sanctions press harder on the economy, experts say.
Iranian leaders know the only route to ease the economic pressures – and possibly undercut threats of military action by Israel – is through potential deal-making with six world powers — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
Making grand gestures to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, would likely bring praise from the West, but it is unlikely to roll back sanctions, which have so far reduced Iran's critical oil exports by 45 percent.
Tehran ... sees any cooperation with the IAEA as a potential bargaining chip that is better reserved for the talks that really matter, said Suzanne Maloney, an Iranian affairs expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Iran has proposed restarting talks as early as next month. But while Iran's desire to revive dialogue with the world powers suggests an acknowledgment that the sanctions have taken a bite out of its economy, there still are no clear signals on whether it means a greater willingness to make concessions.