A former CIA analyst says a WND report that revealed Iranian sources confirming a deal between the Obama administration and a representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over that nation’s nuclear program means the issue could not be used to “bludgeon” challenger Mitt Romney.
The WND report revealed that the deal is for Iran to halt part of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many U.S. sanctions against the Islamic regime.
A day after WND’s report, by Reza Kahlili, the New York Times followed up with a story reporting Obama administration officials had confirmed the U.S. and Iran had agreed to one-on-one talks in what could be “a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.”
Obama dismissed the Times report, but according to an analysis of his statements in Monday night’s presidential debate by the Guardian, he then seemed to open the door for those exact discussions.
“I’m pleased that you now are endorsing our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and potentially having bilateral discussions with the Iranians to end their nuclear program,” Obama told GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
The report also quoted Mark Fitzpatrick, a former State Department expert working at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, who said, “I have been hearing for some time that they had been having private discussions, and now it is starting to become public.”
Larry Johnson, an ex-CIA analyst, said yesterday during an interview on the John Batchelor Show the revelation has pulled the rug from underneath any Obama campaign plans to take advantage of the situation.
“”There are two types of leaks in Washington,” he said. “One is when the official part of the administration gets it out there in order to help drive the story. The other is when someone who’s inside the administration who’s privy to what’s going on leaks it in order to derail it.
“I think this is a case of the latter. I don’t doubt Reza’s reporting at all. I think it’s quite accurate. What this ended up doing was derailing Obama’s attempt to try to take the high ground…”
Kahlili also was on the show, and explained what has been going on – the Obama administration’s delegation meeting in secret with Iranian officials in Doha. Qatar. The deal would have Iranians would suspend their uranium enrichment temporarily before the election in order to help return Obama to the White House.
In return, the U.S. is supposed to cancel sanctions that have been crippling Iran’s economy in recent weeks.
Kahlili said on the Batchelor program that the meetings actually date back to last winter.
He noted that Iranian officials had publicly announced months ago that they had gotten a message, or a letter, from Obama.
Iranian officials have claimed they don’t have in the works bilateral talks with the United States.
“We don’t have any discussions or negotiations with America,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference, according to Reuters. “The [nuclear] talks are ongoing with the P5+1 group of nations. Other than that, we have no discussions with the United States.”
The P5+1 group comprises the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – the United States, Great Britain, China, France and Russia, plus Germany.
The Iranian Students’ News Agency reported Salehi suggested Iran would hold talks with the P5+1 “probably in late November.”
Reuters reports a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is coordinating the efforts of the P5+1, said, “We hope that we will pick up discussions soon, but there is no date at the moment.”
Yet the Russians have also pegged November as a talking summit between Iran and P5+1.
“It would be realistic to talk about organizing one in November,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, according to the Tehran Times.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu similarly claimed no knowledge of any breakthrough in nuclear talks with Iran but added Iran is likely to use talks as a plot to continue advancing its nuclear program, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Last month, Netanyahu claimed Jerusalem and Washington were talking about pressuring Iran further and advocated setting clear lines that, if crossed, would prompt military action.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, hesitated to set a clear line in the sand, saying negotiations were “by far the best approach.”
“We’re watching very carefully about what they do,” she said, “because it’s always been more about their actions than their words.”
Time, however, may be of the essence.
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe-1 Radio that unspecified experts “have established in an absolutely indisputable way” that Iran has obtained centrifuge technology that “apparently will allow the ability to go toward possession of the nuclear weapon by the first half of next year, the end of the first half.”
While the New York Times reported Iranian officials insist further nuclear talks wait until after the election so Tehran knows with whom they’ll be negotiating, WND sources say one of the enticements for Iran to announce a halt to enrichment now is to assist Barack Obama’s re-election chances. Mitt Romney is seen as less yielding than Obama and a president who will be quick to support Israel.
WND’s source, who remains anonymous for security reasons and is highly placed in Iran’s regime, said that once Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, received a letter from Obama guaranteeing the details of the agreement, he would authorize an announcement by Iran on a solution to the nuclear crisis before the U.S. presidential elections.
The source in Tehran said Khamenei has made it clear that unless he received Obama’s written guarantees, he would not begin the process, which would dramatically boost Obama’s re-election chances. If the guarantees are not given, Khamenei warned, Iran will speed up its nuclear program.
Citing WND’s report by correspondent Reza Kahlili, political analyst Dick Morris predicted the administration would soon announce a deal with Iran.
The Iranians, Morris said, may prefer another four years of Obama to the possibility of a Romney presidency.
“I think they feel that Romney would assist Israel in attacking them,” Morris said.
“The Iranians have a real history of intervening in U.S. elections,” Morris said in an appearance Saturday on Fox News. “Bear in mind that in 1980, they did not release the hostages until after the election because they wanted to defeat [President Carter].”
Michael Ledeen, a scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a highly regarded expert on Iran, affirms the essence of the WND report: “One-on-one negotiations have been going on for years (most recently, according to my friend ‘Reza Kahlili,’ in Doha, where, he was told, Valerie Jarrett and other American officials recently traveled for the latest talks). The only news here is that the talks would no longer be secret. And the notion that only diplomacy can avert ‘a military strike on Iran’ is fanciful. There are at least two other ways: sanctions may compel the regime to stop its nuclear weapons program, or the Iranian people may find a way to overthrow the regime, thereby (perhaps, at least) rendering military action unnecessary.”
“So what is happening?” Ledeen asks. “The most likely explanation is that Obama is still desperately seeking his grand bargain, the one that would validate his (and the Nobel Committee’s) claim to be a talented peace maker. That deal is not available, because the Iranians don’t want it. But he wants something to show for his efforts, so he settled for a big nothingburger: an agreement to talk some more.”
Media interested in interviewing Kahlili are encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to the interview: