Last week, the New York Times wrote:
Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, proposed a new way to help resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program during an extraordinary meeting with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the country’s chief nuclear negotiator on Wednesday.
The negotiator, Ali Larijani, told reporters that Mr. Putin, who was granted an audience with Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday evening, “offered a special proposal.” Neither the Iranians nor the Russians would disclose any details, but Mr. Larijani said the Iranian side was studying it.
“One of the issues he brought up was his view on the nuclear issue,” Mr. Larijani said, according to the ISNA news agency. “We are reviewing it now.”
Like the above says, neither said gave details as to what Putin proposed. And Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied that Putin made any such proposal despite its announcement by Larijani and its reporting on IRNA, Iran’s official state news agency. But today, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani up and resigned. Larijani’s resignation, says the LA Times, “will likely be viewed in Western capitals as a major setback for Iranian moderates attempting to forge a compromise over Iran’s nuclear program.” This couldn’t have been what Mr. Putin had in mind. But if there was something on Putin’s mind, I assume we’ll find out soon.
Update: On the Informed Comment Global Affairs blog, Farideh Farhi discusses the background and significance of Ali Larijani’s resignation and the appointment of the less experienced but closer to Ahmadinejad, Saeed Jalili, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for European affairs. Larijani’s resignation seems to have a connection to Putin. She writes, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was probably Larijani’s assertion that Putin had a special message about Iran’s nuclear file and Ahmadinejad’s public rejection of that assertion.”