International inspectors can have "full supervision" of Iran's nuclear program for five years—if UN sanctions are lifted, according to the first offer to come out of Iran in two years, reports the New York Times. The offer, presented by the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, was a bit vague. But one White House official said that the offer was a sign “that the sanctions are wearing on the leadership.” The significance of the offer depends on the meaning of "full supervision." There is a "list of tunnels to look at that is so long, it would take years," said one American official.
The UN's four sanctions programs against Iran are considered patchy, but they have hurt the country's ability to get parts for its nuclear program, insurance for its ships, and to trade with Europe. In fall 2009, the US reached a deal with Iranian negotiators to provide fuel for a research reactor if Iran stopped trying to enrich its own uranium. The deal, however, was overturned by the Iranian government—by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself, according to Obama aides.