Reza Kahlili, author of the award-winning book "A Time to Betray," served in CIA Directorate of Operations, as a spy in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, counterterrorism expert; currently serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, an advisory board to Congress and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI). He regularly appears in national and international media as an expert on Iran and counterterrorism inMore ↓Less ↑
The United States and Iran are moving forward with secret negotiations, despite denying earlier meetings took place, according to a source highly placed in the Islamic government.
The source, who remains anonymous for security reasons, added that teams from both sides will resume the talks in the coming days with the hope of reaching agreement to announce a breakthrough before the U.S. elections.
The source said the Obama administration seems to need a diplomatic victory before the elections in the wake of the attack in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans because the administration failed to adequately protect the Benghazi consulate.
If President Obama is not re-elected, however, the source contends any agreement reached after the elections will be announced and enforced while he is still in office, once Iran’s supreme leader receives written guarantees from Obama.
The source adds, on a related note, that President Obama chose not to destroy the American, sensitive-technology RQ-170 stealth drone, which was captured by the Iranian forces after it crashed in Iran in December of 2011, because he feared jeopardizing the ongoing secret negotiations.
The negotiations to date have reportedly gone beyond the Iranian nuclear program to include such issues as South America, the Persian Gulf and Syria. On the latter issue, the U.S. has already stepped back from its demand that President Bashar Assad be removed. The source added that both parties have agreed on a broad range of incentives that have been offered to the Islamic regime and which will be revealed in time.
The source said the revelation of the secret meetings has caused internal rifts between Iranian factions. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has already alerted the Americans that he might remove President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and establish an emergency government. He has already seized authority over much of the affairs of the country, including international matters.
Khamenei has decided to push for Ali Akbar Velayati, the former foreign minister and the current close adviser to the supreme leader on international affairs, as the new president in the upcoming Iranian presidential elections next June, the source added. The American negotiators have already signed off on that.
Velayati is wanted by Argentina for the Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.
In a rare interview Saturday on Mashregh, a Revolutionary Guards media outlet, Velayati denied reports of his involvement in secret meetings with the U.S. He also said of the U.S. elections that Mitt Romney showed he does not have the minimum capacity to compete with Obama and that Obama will win the elections unless some unexpected political event derails him.
Today, Iranian major newspapers, including Keyhan, which is directly under the supervision of the supreme leader, scrambled to deny the secret meetings with America.
The Iranian website Kaleme, the official site of the Green movement and close to opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, verified the secret negotiations and gave full coverage to news of the meetings, stating that the presence of Velayati in secret talks with the Americans shows the ayatollah’s direct approval of such negotiations.
In recent days, Western media have reported on secret meetings between the U.S. and Iran, which both Washington and Tehran then quickly denied. Those denials, however, seem to sidestep the issue and fail to deny the facts, Kaleme reported.
“There is no such a thing as negotiations,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had said.
The White House, despite its denial, said it is ready for one-on-one negotiations.
The news of these secret meetings even affected Monday’s presidential debates, Kaleme reported, and added that for the leaders of the Islamic regime to tie the negotiations to the U.S. elections would be ugly.
Kaleme suggested that despite internal problems and the economy on the verge of collapse because of international sanctions, it is best for the regime to look for solutions from within, offering more freedom, referring to the suppression of the public and politicians.
As WND reported on Oct. 4, Oct. 19 and Oct. 24, a series of secret meetings took place in Washington and then in Doha, Qatar, between President Obama’s representatives and the Iranian team, including Velayati.
In the Qatar meeting, according to the source, the U.S. delegation urged an announcement, even if only on a temporary nuclear deal, before the U.S. elections to help Obama get re-elected. A Romney presidency, the delegation said, would surely move more toward Israel, and Obama has stood up to Israel against attacking Iran. The regime’s delegation was urged to understand that if Iran did not stand by Obama, Israel will attack Iran.
The Qatar agreement would have Iran announce a partial halt to enrichment, ensure the regime’s right to peaceful enrichment, quickly remove much of the sanctions, accept that Iran’s nuclear program does not have a military dimension and relieve international pressure on the regime while it continues its nuclear program.
Revelation of the secret negotiations reported by WND has caused a stir across the globe, resulting in a leak to The New York Times, a White House denial, the widespread report in Iran and regime denial and a statement by the Qatari prime minister that denied the meeting took place in Doha.
The French newspaper Le Monde last week reported that one U.S. official, Robert J. Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control and a long-time proponent of bilateral talks who in 2009 offered a uranium exchange to Iran, has held secret talks with Velayati before.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, in an interview with the Iranian news agency IRNA on Thursday, said of the secret meetings: “Not only does this not exist, but also there is no need for it. The bilateral talks by the Americans on the Iranian nuclear program will not be worthy for any party.”
WND once again contacted the White House for a response on the negotiations and was referred to the following White House statement from spokesman Tommy Vietor: “It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections. We continue to work with the P5+1* on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally. The president has made clear that he will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and we will do what we must to achieve that. It has always been our goal for sanctions to pressure Iran to come in line with its obligations. The onus is on the Iranians to do so, otherwise they will continue to face crippling sanctions and increased pressure.”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).