As US-led economic sanctions tighten around its economy, the Iranian government is once again indicating its willingness to negotiate a compromise over its nuclear programme.
On 12 October, foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast said: 'Iran is ready to show flexibility to remove concerns within a legal framework' - he added: 'but such measures should be reciprocal'.
Mehmanparast said that Iran would cease 20% enrichment if it was provided with a guaranteed supply of 20%-enriched fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor, which produces medical isotopes.
The fuel rods cannot be further enriched to create weapons-grade uranium, unlike Iran's stock of 20%-enriched uranium.
Iran may be indicating that it would be prepared to carry out the fuel swap proposed by the US in 2009, exporting 20%-enriched uranium in return for a supply of 20%-enriched fuel rods.
Brazil and Turkey managed to persuade Iran to accept this swap in May 2010, following exactly the principles laid out in a letter from US president Barack Obama to Brazilian president Lula da Silva.
The US (and UK) then rejected the Brazil-Turkey-Iran agreement (see PN 2523-24), demonstrating their opposition to a negotiated solution to the nuclear crisis.
The fact that Iran is making offers in this area show how desperate the situation is.
The Iranian riyal has lost 50% of its value over the last year, prices for basic foods have more than doubled, and there are increasing shortages of medicine as US-imposed sanctions have cut oil income and reduced shipping.
On 3 October, there was a riot in a major bazaar in Tehran, triggered by high prices.
Like other democracy movement leaders, Iranian Nobel peace prize-winner Shirin Ebadi has opposed economic sanctions because 'they hurt the Iranian people.'