Apparently stung by international criticism, Iran's ruling Revolutionary Council today outlined for the first time specific conditions for the release of about 100 hostages, including at least 60 Americans, held at the U.S. Embassy for the last 10 days.
Seemingly meant as a signal to the U.S. government and American public opinion, the continuing Iranian dipplomatic offensive appears to concentrate more on form than content, which observers here said probably would be unacceptable to Washington.
The demands, outlined in detail at a news conference held by Revolutionary Council member Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, for the first time left unclear whether the Iranians would demand the immediate return of Shad Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who is undergoing treatment for cancer in New York.
Instead, the council called for interrogation of the shah by a team of Iranian-picked investigators to prepare for the deposed monarch's eventual trial in Iran.
Shortly after the news conference, Foreign Minister Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr incorporated the demands in an appeal for a United Nations Security Council meeting.
Meanwhile, following President Carter's decision to halt imports of Iranian oil, the Revolutionary Council and the National Iranian Oil Co. were examinig what level of crude exports to set for 1980, and indications were that a decision to cut production would be made within a week.
Ghotbzadeh confirmed today that there would be a drop in production levels at least in the short term -- for "15 days to three weeks" while the oil company makes the necessary marketing adjustments for the loss of U.S. orders.
In calling for the Security Council meeting, Iran cited the "threat to the peace caused by the political actions of the U.S. government against Iran" and announced that Bani-Sadr would head its delegation to any U.N. debate.
U.N. Secretary General Jurt Waldheim immediately informed the Security Council president and consultations began among the 15 council members on the prospects for a formal meeting.
Initial indications from ranking U.S. diplomats were that Washington would welcome a Security Council debate on the Iran issue.
At his press conference here, Ghotbzadeh indicated that the shah's return could follow his questioning by Iranians as a natural matter of course.
"I would say precisely that if [Iran's] conditions are met by the American government," he said, "I'm sure the situation will change for the better. We will start from there to talks [about] what we can do next."
"For the sake of the hostages and for humanitarian reasons we start to open up the possibility of the process, of beginning the process, of returning the shah here," he added, "so therefore we are just opening the process of his return. That is important."
He made clear later, however, that the Iranian authorities considered it a foregone conclusion that the investigators would return a grand jury-like indictment against the shah. The ultimate trial should be held and he should be sent here."
It appears virtually certain that the U.S. government will reject the demands, according to analysts, who themselves speculated that in due time Iran's conditions, too, would change.
Analysts noted that the United States government could not easily seize the shah's fortune, as the Iraians demand, must less allow foreign investigators to question the ailing monarch in New York and prepare for his eventual extradition in the absence of any U.S.-Iranian treaty.
The shah's presence in the United States will be considered "a symbolic insult" because of the close relations between the Pahlavi dynasty and the United States for more than 30 years, Ghotbzadeh said.
Despite new attention paid to international opinion, Foreign Minister Bani-Sadr faltly turned down Waldheim's offer to come here to help resolve the crisis. He charged that the U.S. ban on Iranian oil purchases and military spare parts sales amounted to Washington's creating "the psychological conditions [necessary] for launching war" and told Waldheim, "You propose to come to Iran . . . the problem and solution is in America."
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the country's spiritual leader and virtual ruler, has ruled out mediation, at least for the time being, and is on a five-day retreat.
Until his return there appears no hope of any major new movement in the confrontation.
Whether the new effort to appear more diplomatic was based on real hope of moving forward was not clear.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic corps here has had some limited success in registering their disapproval of the holding of hostages and in voicing concern about their own missions' security.
For example, Ghotzadeh denounced "propaganda" alleging that foreign nationals and embassies are endangered. He said, "counterrevolutionaries" were trying to intimidate "various nationals and embassies."
"We will not tolerate" any attacks against foreigners or their property," he added.
In the past 10 days, the United States, West Germany and Britain have advised their citizens to leave the country.
During a meeting today with the foreign minister, diplomats from the European Common Market countries said the conditions of the hostages detention were unacceptable, according to informed sources. Looking very surprised, Bani-Sadr said he would try to improve the conditions, the sources said.
But the hostages' captors at the embassy made clear at a news conference that they were still insisting that "delivering the shah is the only way of releasing the hostages."
For the first time, Hojatolesiam Mohammed Moussavi Khoeni appeared at the news confrence apparently confirming reports that he had played at the news conference apparently pation and might become a Revolutionary Council member.
He angrily broke off the news conference in the face of probing questions and claimed the students "were tired because of their fast" -- in support of Khomeini -- and "had to go pray."
It is not known what, if anything, the surface differences between the students and the westernized Revolutionary Council members such as Bani-Sadr really mean. But differences do exist on the ruling council.
In anothr development, Iran began steps to resume diplomatic ties with Libya. Relations between the two countries have been strained, largely because of the disappearance last year of a Lebanese Shiite Moslem leader in Libya.