Note: This story was originally posted Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at 10:41 p.m. Eastern.
Fulfilling a request of Barack Obama’s administration reported exclusively by WND, Iran Saturday announced its promise as outlined in the secret negotiations with the U.S. to suspend uranium enrichment to the 20 percent level for its nuclear program.
During an interview with the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), Mohammad Hassan Asfari, member of the Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, announced that Iran has halted the enrichment to the 20 percent level and at the same time requested the removal of sanctions by the West.
Asfari said that the halt is a sign of goodwill by Iran but it requires a positive response from the West.
“In order to build trust, the Islamic regime has set aside the 20 percent enrichment process. It is expected that the 5+1 will remove the sanctions. If such action does not take place, Iran will continue with its process of reaching peaceful nuclear energy,” said Asfari.
Shortly thereafter though, the Fars News Agency (which is run by the Revolutionary Guards), put up a short statement saying that the 20 percent enrichment continues and that any announcement on the country’s nuclear activity will only come from the office of the Supreme National Security Council. It is possible that Asfari might have given away the big announcement prematurely or it might indicate that there are still major rifts between the differing factions of the regime for such announcement to be made prior to U.S. elections, or simply that Fars News Agency’s announcement serves for internal consumption.
The ISNA, under pressure by the Islamic regime, later changed the transcript of the Asfari interview from “Iran has halted the enrichment to the 20 percent level” to “Iran will halt the enrichment to the 20 percent level” as a sign of goodwill by Iran.
The 20 percent enrichment has been a major concern to world powers as it would allow Iran to move rather quickly to weaponization grade should it decide to do so.
However, Asfari did not address the fact that Iran already holds enough low enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs if it is further enriched and the current stock of the 20 percent enriched uranium kept at the Fordo facility. Also, as of the release of this news, there has been no official verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, that Iran has indeed halted the 20 percent enrichment out of its Natanz and Fordo nuclear facilities. This is while reports, just days ago, confirmed that IAEA inspectors have verified that Iran has installed the last of nearly 3000 centrifuges in the underground site at Fordo.
WND reported exclusively on the secret meetings in Washington and Doha, Qatar, between Obama representatives and those of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei Oct. 4, Oct. 8, Oct. 23 and Oct. 28.
According to the source, who remains anonymous for security reasons and is highly placed in the Islamic regime, in the Qatar meeting, the U.S. delegation urged an announcement, even if only for a temporary nuclear deal, before the U.S. elections to help Obama get reelected. A Romney presidency, the delegation said, would surely move more toward Israel, noting that 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 would attack Iran.
The source stated that as recently as two weeks ago a letter from the American delegation was passed on to surrogates of the regime in America, which was intended for Khamenei. It contained an urgent request that the announcement be made by the regime’s officials before the U.S. elections.
The reports of the secret talks by WND caused a global stir, especially in Iran, where several denials were issued by regime officials. This saw a majority of the regime’s media scrambling to tackle the news of the secret talks.
Today for the third time in the past two weeks, the Keyhan newspaper (which is directly under the supervision of the supreme leader), covered the story. Referring to the story on WND, it angrily refuted it, called WND an “American–Zionist” outlet, and said the story was an attempt by the enemies of Islam to harm the regime.
On Saturday, in a rare statement by the office of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the “murmur” of negotiations with the Americans was harshly criticized and a tough response to such suspicious news was requested.
A day before, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the head of the Basij organization (who is on the U.S. Treasury sanctions list for crimes against Iranians), issued a strong statement denouncing any move for talks with America.
“It is delusional to think that any contacts with America will reduce threats because America itself is the threat,” Naghdi stated.
According to Javan Online, a publication run by the Revolutionary Guards, Naghdi set specific conditions for meetings with America before any contacts for betterment of relations could be discussed.
Naghdi stated, “America must close all its military bases in fifty countries of the world and remove all its naval assets from the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea, taking them to its own shores. America must also dismantle the CIA … and must officially announce that it will not support the Zionist regime (referring to Israel).” He continued, “America must also close down its prisons at Guantanamo and across the world and only then will it be worthy of talks with Iran.”
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).