A recent article by David Samuels at the New York Times Magazine, based on an interview with Obama’s foreign policy guru Ben Rhodes, purported to explain how, and about what, the Obama administration lied to get public support for the Iran Scam. According to the article, the principal Obama lie involved who was the Iranian president when the negotiations with Iran began. It’s much deeper and worse than that. As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s “the rest of the story.”
Iranian President Rouhani was elected on June 15, 2013 and assumed office on August 3d. According to Rhodes,
negotiations started when the ostensibly moderate Hassan Rouhani was elected president, providing an opening for the administration to reach out in friendship. In reality, as Samuels gets administration officials to admit, negotiations began when “hardliner” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still president. [Emphasis added.]
There is no necessary inconsistency — about a month and a half elapsed between Rouhani’s election and becoming the Iranian president. However, that is of little if any consequences.
Mr. Rosen, interviewed in the above video, touches, very briefly, on other problems with the Iran scam. Back in the world of reality, “we” had been negotiating with Iran during Ahmadinejad’s presidency for a couple of years, during which “we” gave Iran everything it requested. This article is intended to provide substantially more information and analysis of what happened and why during “our” secret bilateral negotiations with Iran.
According to interviews with Iranian vice president and Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, translated and published by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on August 17, 2015, secret bilateral negotiations between the Obama and Iranian regimes had begun much earlier and included Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State, William Burns. During those negotiations, the U.S. conceded that Iran’s right to Uranium enrichment would be respected, that Iran’s missile programs would be left out of any deal and that its efforts to develop nuclear warheads and other devices would be ignored. Obama had essentially caved in to Iran’s demands even before the existence of negotiations was acknowledged.
In an interview published in the daily Iran on August 4, 2015 under the title “The Black Box of the Secret Negotiations between Iran and America,” Iranian vice president and Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi, who is a senior member of Iran’s negotiation team and was foreign minister under president Ahmadinejad, revealed new details on the secret bilateral talks between Iran and the U.S. that started during Ahmadinejad’s second presidential term. According to Salehi, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz, whom Salehi knew from his period as a doctoral student at MIT, was appointed to the American negotiation team at Salehi’s request, a request which the Americans met within hours. [Emphasis added.]
Salehi added that Khamenei agreed to open a direct channel of negotiations between Iran and the U.S. on the condition that the talks would yield results from the start and would not deal with any other issue, especially not with U.S.-Iran relations. Following this, Salehi demanded, via the Omani mediator Sultan Qaboos, that the U.S. recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and received a letter from Qaboos expressing such American recognition, which he relayed to Ahmadinejad. [Emphasis added.]
The secret bilateral Iran-US negotiations had begun with a letter for Iran delivered to an Omani official. Salehi told an Omani intermediary.
‘I am not sure how serious the Americans are, but I will give you a note. Tell them that these are our demands. Deliver it on your next visit to Oman.’ I wrote down four clear issues, one of which was official recognition of rights to [uranium] enrichment. I figured that if the Americans were sincere in their offer, then they must agree to these four demands. Mr. Suri gave this short letter to the mediator, and stressed that these were Iran’s demands. [He added that]if the Americans wished to solve this issue, they were welcome to, otherwise dealing with White House proposals would be useless and unwarranted…
“All the demands in the letter were related to the nuclear challenge. These were issues we have always come against, such as closing the nuclear dossier [in the Security Council], official recognition of [Iran’s] right to enrich [uranium], and resolving the issue of Iran’s actions under the PMD [Possible Military Dimensions]. After receiving the letter, the Americans said: ‘We are certainly willing and able to easily solve the issues Iran has brought up.’ [Emphasis added.]
The first meeting between the Iranian and American negotiating teams began following eight months of coordination. Iran
sent a team to Oman that included the deputy foreign minister for European and American affairs, Mr. [Ali Asghar] Khaji, as well as several CEOs. The Americans were surprised in the first meeting and said, ‘We cannot believe this is happening. We thought Oman was joking. We aren’t even prepared for these talks with you.’
“Q: What was the level of the team that the Americans dispatched?
“A: It included Assistant Secretary of State William Burns. They said: ‘We only came to see if Iran was truly willing to negotiate.’ Our representative gave them the required response and eventually there were talks on this issue. The initial result was achieved and the ground was prepared for further coordination. [Emphasis added.]
“Q: How were the Americans convinced that the Iranian diplomats who were dispatched had the necessary authority?
“A: [Until] that phase, Iran and America had not been allowed to sit opposite each other at the negotiating table. The fact that Iran had sent a deputy foreign minister to the talks indicated its seriousness. The Americans also noticed how seriously [Iran was taking] the issue. At that meeting, Khaji pressed the Americans to set up a roadmap for the negotiations, and eventually the talks of a roadmap were postponed to the second meeting. At the second meeting, Khaji warned the Americans: ‘We did not come here for lengthy negotiations. If you are serious, you must officially recognize enrichment, otherwise we cannot enter into bilateral talks. But if you officially recognize enrichment, then we too are serious and willing to meet your concerns on the nuclear matter as part of international regulations.‘
International regulations were later agreed upon by the P5+1 negotiators, in the form of the Iran – IAEA secret deals concerning nuke inspections and a UN resolution dealing with Iranian missiles. Neither was included in the Joint Cooperative Plan of Action.
“Of course, at that time we were [still] exchanging various information with the Americans via the [Omani] mediation, and this is documented at the Foreign Ministry. We did not do it in the form of official letters, but rather unofficially and not on paper. The Omani mediator later came to Iran, held talks with us, and then later spoke to the Americans and told them our positions, so that the ties were not severed. But there was no possibility for direct talks.
“Thus, a real opportunity was squandered because, at the time, the Americans were genuinely prepared to make real concessions to Iran. Perhaps it was God’s will that the process progressed like that and the results were [eventually] in our favor. In any case, several months passed and Obama was reelected in America [in November 2012]. I thought that, unlike the first time, we must not waste time in coordinating [within regime bodies], so with the leader’s backing and according to my personal decision, I dispatched our representatives to negotiate with the Americans in Oman. [Emphasis added.]
“Q: Didn’t you have another meeting with the leader about the process and content of the talks?
“A: No. Obviously during the process I wrote a letter to the leader detailing the problems. He said ‘try to solve them.’ He was always supportive but told me to ‘act in a manner that includes necessary coordination [within the regime]. In this situation, I dispatched Khaji to the second meeting in Oman (around March 2013) and it was a positive meeting. Both sides stayed in Oman for two or three days and the result was that the Omani ruler sent a letter to Ahmadinejad saying that the American representative had announced official recognition of Iran’s enrichment rights. Sultan Qaboos sent the same letter to the American president. When Ahmadinejad received the letter, several friends said that this move would be fruitless and that the Americans do not keep [their] commitments. [But] we had advanced to this stage. [Emphasis added.]
. . . . We [then ] prepared ourselves for the third meeting with the Americans in order to set up the roadmap and detail the mutual commitments. All this happened while Iran was nearing the presidential elections [in June 2013]. At that time, the leader’s office told me that I had to cease negotiations and let the next government handle the talks after the results of the elections were known.
. . . .
“Q: What was the Americans’ position in the first meetings between Iran and the P5+1 held during the Rohani government [era]?
“A:After the Rohani government began to operate – along with the second term of President Obama – the new negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 were started. By then, Kerry was no longer an American senator but had been appointed secretary of state. As a senator, Kerry had been appointed by Obama to be in charge of handling the nuclear dossier, and then [in December 2012] he was appointed secretary of state. [Emphasis added.]
“Before that, the Omani mediator, who had close relations with Kerry, told us that Kerry would soon be appointed [U.S.] secretary of state. During the period when the secret negotiations with the Americans were underway in Oman, there was a situation in which it was easier to obtain concessions from the Americans. After the Rohani government and the American administration [of Obama’s second term] took power, and Kerry become secretary of state, the Americans spoke from a more assertive position. They no longer showed the same degree of eagerness to advance the negotiations. Their position became harder, and the threshold of their demands rose. At the same time, on the Iranian side, the situation [also] changed, and a most professional negotiating team took responsibility for negotiating with the P5+1. [Emphasis added.]
As to the reluctance of the American side to make concessions after Kerry had replaced Clinton as the Secretary of State, it must be remembered that “we” had already made all or most of the concessions Iran sought.
Another positive point was that [President] Rohani oversaw the dossier, knew its limits, and as a result succeeded in producing a good strategy to advance the nuclear dossier. At the same time, Rohani took responsibility for everything. Many may have reservations and ask why we were putting ourselves in danger, but Rohani’s willingness to take responsibility was very high. There are those who say, from a political standpoint, that he was willing to take a very great risk, because, had the negotiations not achieved certain results, and had the best results not been achieved, he would have faced waves of criticism. But he took upon himself the risk of [such] criticism. In any event, he agreed to take this responsibility, and, God be praised, even God helped him, and he emerged [from the negotiations] with his head held high.” [Emphasis added.]
At some point, the negotiations broke down over “technical issues.” Salehi, a technical expert as well as a diplomat, found a way to resolve those issues.
A . . . condition was that American experts would come to Iran and talk to me. I said that as vice president I would not enter into a discussion with their experts, because as far as the protocol was concerned, this would create a bad situation and they would say that Iran would capitulate in any situation. This was not good for Iran, but I was willing to quit and to come to the talks not as vice president but as the foreign minister’s scientific advisor. Larijani said ‘he’s right.’ The next day, Fereydoun asked me to come to his office and asked me who my [American] counterpart was. I said, the [U.S.] Department of Energy. Fereydoun called Araghchi and said, ‘Tell [U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs] Ms. [Wendy] Sherman that Salehi is joining the negotiations provided that the American secretary of energy also joins the negotiators.‘ Araghchi and Sherman were the liaison between Iran and America. Araghchi said in this conversation with Fereydoun that on such short notice it was unlikely that they [i.e. the Americans] would send their secretary of energy. I heard [Fereydoun’s conversation with Araghchi]. In short, Fereydoun asked and Araghchi contacted Sherman and a few hours later a report that they welcomed Iran’s proposal arrived. [Emphasis added.]
“Q: How many hours did it take before they [the Americans] said yes?
“A: It didn’t take long. I went to see Fereydoun in the evening and the next day they responded. This was because of the time difference [between Tehran and Washington].
“Q: The general perception was that because Moniz was brought into the negotiating team, you were brought into the Iranian team?
“A: [On the contrary,] Moniz came because of me. In any case, in February  I joined [the negotiations], and praise God, matters moved forward with Moniz.
“Q: Did you and Moniz study together?
“A: Moniz knew me more than I knew him. I saw him at the annual IAEA meeting. When I was a doctoral student at MIT, he had just been accepted as a staff member. He is five years older than me.
“Q: Did you take one of his classes?
“A: No. He knew me because my doctoral studies advisor was his close friend and right hand man in scientific fields. Even now he is an advisor on many of Moniz’s scientific programs. Many of my fellow students are now experts for Moniz. One of them was Mujid Kazimi, who is of Palestinian origin. He recently died. He was two years older than me but we were friends in college. After graduating, he became the head of the MIT Department of Nuclear Science and was a prominent figure who carried out many programs with Moniz.
“Q: How did Moniz treat you initially?
“A: In light of our prior acquaintance, he was excited. We’ve known each other for years and he treated [me] very well. Our first meeting was in public.
“Q: How did you feel when you heard Moniz was coming [to the talks]?
“A: I was very happy. I was assured. I said that the prestige of the Islamic Republic remained intact [because] an Iranian official would not speak to an American expert but rather would negotiate with a high-ranking American official. This was very important. Second, as I said before, he could make a decision [while] an expert could not. We had a very interesting group meeting. The American experts were same ones who had dealt with disarmament vis-à-vis the Soviet Union.
“I said [to Moniz]: ‘I cannot accept your offer for various reasons.’ One American expert said, ‘We do not accept the basic assumption of your calculations.’ I said, ‘Tell us what is the basic assumption of [your] calculations so we can work from there.’ He said ‘we can’t do that.’ I said to them, ‘If you don’t accept our estimation, then tell us [yours]. You say that you cannot because this [exposes] your process. If we show [our] calculation, you will know our working secrets.’ So then I said ‘ok, what do we do now?’ The meeting stagnated.
“Later I thought about it… and said ‘Mr. Moniz, I am here with full authority from my country. Anything I sign will be acceptable to my country. Do you have full authority as well, or does any result achieved here need to be asked and clarified with officials from other countries?’ He said ‘no, I have full authority.’
“Q: Did you have full authority?
“A: Yes. In the scientific discussions, I knew the level of [Iran’s] demands. I said, ‘Mr. Moniz, you made an offer to Iran, and Iran rejects it. I want to ask you a question. If you can answer it [then] I will have no problem with your offer.’ I continued and said: ‘Show me one place on earth where enrichment is taking place using the method you are demanding of us. If you can give me even a single example then I will sign on the spot and we will become the second country to enrich in this method.’ He looked [at me] and then announced that the meeting was over, and we spoke. We had the first private meeting that lasted two or three hours. He said: ‘Mr. Salehi, when I was called [out of the negotiating room, it was because] Obama wanted to speak to me. Now I am free [to continue]. What you said is acceptable [but] there are practical problems with your offer.’ I said, ‘Do you agree? Then I relinquish that proposal.’ Eventually. we reached mutual understandings on this issue. I said ‘let’s start from the top.’ This diplomatic challenge should be published in a memoir so that everyone can understand how we reached 6,000 centrifuges. It is a very nice story… [Emphasis added.]
Ultimately, Iran’s right to enrich Uranium was fully recognized in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and in the subsequent Joint Cooperative Plan of Action (JCPOA). As to the missile aspects of the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, neither document dealt with Iranian missiles. That was left up to the United Nations Security Council to deal with in its resolution approving the nuke “deal.” In light of Russia’s warm relations with Iran, Russia would most likely veto any proposed Security Council resolution finding Iran in violation of its missile provisions.
The “verification” mechanism was included only in separate and secret “side deal(s)” solely between Iran and the IAEA which members of the U.S. Congress were not permitted to see during the pseudo-approval process. According to Kerry, he was not permitted to see them either, but the details were “fully explained” to him.
Here’s a video of Secretary Kerry under questioning about the side deals:
Questions might have been better directed to this Kerry clone; more candid answers might have been provided.
As I wrote earlier, the Iranian nuke inspections are a sick joke.
Any pretense that the IAEA will have “any time, anywhere” access to Iran’s military sites was mere rhetoric, as acknowledged by US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on July 16th
“I think this is one of those circumstances where we have all been rhetorical from time to time,” Sherman said in a conference call with Israeli diplomatic reporters. “That phrase, anytime, anywhere, is something that became popular rhetoric, but I think people understood that if the IAEA felt it had to have access, and had a justification for that access, that it would be guaranteed, and that is what happened.” [Emphasis added.]
Ms. Sherman was right about the rhetorical nature of administration assertions, but wrong about IAEA access, of which there will apparently be little or none pursuant to the secret deals between Iran and the IAEA.
As I observed on August 4, 2015,
United Nations nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency would not be given access to Tehran’s sensitive military nuclear sites.
. . . .
“First, allow me to emphasize that the issue of the missiles and of Iran’s defensive capabilities were not part of the negotiations to begin with,” Velayati said. [Emphasis added.]
“No matter what pressure is exerted, Iran never has negotiated and never will negotiate with others – America, Europe, or any other country – about the nature and quality of missiles it should manufacture or possess, or about the defensive military equipment that it needs. This is out of the question.” [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador and permanent envoy to the IAEA, stated over the weekend that “no country is permitted to know the details of future inspections conducted by the IAEA.” [Emphasis added.]
Najafi’s statement could mean (a) that no details about inspection methodology will be disclosed, (b) that no details about inspection results will be disclosed or (c) both. If inspection methodologies — who did the inspections as well as when, where and how, are not disclosed, what useful purpose will they serve, other than for Iran? If details of the results of inspections are not disclosed, that will also be the case. How, in either or both cases, will the members of the P5+1 negotiating teams have sufficient information to decide whether to “snap back” sanctions — if doing so is now even possible — or anything else? [Emphasis added.]
One can only hope that our next president will dispose of the Iranian “deal” as a treaty which Obama refused to submit to the Congress as the Constitution requires or at least ostentatiously ignore it and grant no more concessions.
Otherwise, be not afraid; Obama the Great One — the smartest person in any room and the best President ever — has made us safe. How can one possibly be safer alive than dead?