It’s daylight in America — US and Iran reportedly agree to one-on-one talks post-election

on 18 Comments

The New York Times dropped a big leak over the weekend, guaranteed to finds its way into the presidential debate tomorrow night on foreign policy. And if true, the report signifies more daylight between the Obama Administration and Israel than hardliners are comfortable with.

According to anonymous Obama administration officials, the US and Iran have agreed to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program after the elections. Iranian officials have insisted on that because they want to know “with whom they would be negotiating.”

White House spokesperson Tommy Vietor denied the US had made a “final” agreement with Iran over the meetings but said the administration was open to them and stated “from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”

The New York Times:

The administration, officials said, has begun an internal review at the State Department, the White House and the Pentagon to determine what the United States’ negotiating stance should be, and what it would put in any offer. One option under consideration is “more for more” — more restrictions on Iran’s enrichment activities in return for more easing of sanctions.

This is great news. Iran’s beef all along has been the refusal of the U.S. to offer any  easing of sanctions for Iran’s acceptance of enrichment limitations. As I reported back in June in All eyes on Moscow:

In Baghdad, Iran expressed the hope that its proposals would be met with the principle of reciprocity: if they agreed to limit enrichment, the sanctions would be eased. Talib Mahdi, a member of the Iranian delegation in Baghdad stated Iran would accept a proposal limiting enrichment to 5% if the sanctions were eased. But Iran’s bottom line is recognition of a right to enrichment, and they are not even interested in discussing further rounds of negotiations without this recognition.

Michael Oren sounds displeased:

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael B. Oren, said the administration had not informed Israel, and that the Israeli government feared Iran would use new talks to “advance their nuclear weapons program.”

“We do not think Iran should be rewarded with direct talks,” Mr. Oren said, “rather that sanctions and all other possible pressures on Iran must be increased.”

Israel doesn’t want the U.S. in direct negotiations with Iran, that’s as clear as daylight on a crisp autumn day.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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18 Responses

  1. Les
    October 21, 2012, 3:59 pm

    It’s hard to keep track of which side of its mouth the US is talking from.
    Consider this nonsense:

    U.S. Administration Claims Iran Allied With al lQaeda

    • Annie Robbins
      October 21, 2012, 4:29 pm

      yep, from Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism Country Reports on Terrorism report July 31, 2012:

      In 2011, Iran remained unwilling to bring to justice senior AQ members it continued to detain, and refused to publicly identify those senior members in its custody. It also allowed AQ members to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iranian territory, enabling AQ to carry funds and move facilitators and operatives to South Asia and elsewhere.

    • piotr
      October 21, 2012, 6:50 pm

      A great country can have a mouth with hundred sides!

  2. Annie Robbins
    October 21, 2012, 4:31 pm

    poor michael oren is out of the loop now that bina has been reassigned to siberia.

    • Krauss
      October 21, 2012, 11:00 pm

      I don’t think he is. I think this was a hostile leak, placed the day before the foreign policy debate, to push Obama on Iran if he wins.

      David E. Sanger, who is the Chief Washington Beaureu reporter for the NYT has been in the weeds for a long time on all matters Iran and the Middle East. His ‘news stories’ have often been little else than disguised editorials for whatever line Israel wants pushed. He had “contributed” to this article too. Most likely the leak came to him and he made sure to place it in the paper.

      Israel probably has a lot of moles inside the Obama administration, and it’s very hard to picture a situation where Israel doesn’t have the inside scoop on what’s happening in the inner workings of the White House, after all, I don’t think they trust Obama to begin with.

      What annoys me, and apparently MJ Rosenberg too(judging from his tweets), is that as soon as this story came out, the Obama administration went into full denial mode.

      If they’d run with “diplomacy before war”, they’d win the American people. But they can’t win AIPAC with that line and AIPAC comes before the American public, hence the hostile leak to the NYT to pressure the Obama administration.

      Oren, Yahoo and co wants to hurt Obama the most in the day before the debate. They want to box him in. Obama isn’t a pushover, though. No president can make the 2SS work if Israel refuses to cooperate. But he has resisted going to war and I don’t think he’ll remember kindly to being assassinated like this the day before the crucial final 3rd debate.

      It’s another example of Yahoo butting into the American election.
      If Romney wins, he knows who is high on his thanking list.

  3. MRW
    October 21, 2012, 4:46 pm

    Tony Karon tweet: “A closer read suggests purpose of this leak is to embarrass Obama pre debate, push him to commit to harder line re Iran talks.”

    • Annie Robbins
      October 21, 2012, 5:28 pm

      thanks mrw. the timing of it is no mistake. wonder who those anonymous officials are. have you read the article btw. half of it was about romney. the american people do not want war with iran, so let them make a choice.

      not sure i agree with karon on this one tho. could provide an opening for obama to distinguish himself from romney who is not allowed one centimeter of space between him and netanyahu.

      and remember these were the words of obama’s official spokesperson a day beor

      He added, however, that the administration was open to such talks, and has “said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.

      that must be his official position.

      • MRW
        October 21, 2012, 10:28 pm

        I don’t know what to think, annie. Yeah, I read it within minutes of it going online yesterday afternoon. I thought, initially, that it was the Iranians making it public to force Romney to spend today concentrating on Iran policy, breaking his stride so to speak. The part about after the election was key to me, because if Romney were to win, then he better know what he’s going to do.

        Now I’m not so sure. The WH and Iranian insistence that nothing was planned stopped me. Could the Israelis be that effing stupid to do this? The US Military would know the answer at Dempsey’s level and if Romney wins, no matter what he’s going to have to deal with the military, who are fed up with Israel.

    • American
      October 21, 2012, 11:34 pm

      Says ….we ‘have ‘ no.
      Doesn’t say we ‘aren’t’ going to.

    • American
      October 21, 2012, 11:42 pm

      Hmmm……..don’t see how it could embarrass Obama if Iran was willing to talk.
      (Course Iran has been willing before & the US ignored them)
      Could be seen as a feather in Obama’s cap if his sanctions are working to bring about negotiations.
      The purpose of the NYT may have been to get at obama, but doesn’t mean it’s gonna work.
      I think American voters would be delighted to hear it and relieved if they thought a” problem was going to be solved without another US ME invasion.

      Everyones statements are we have no ‘now’…nothing ‘in place’ now…no one has denied there has been no overture or third party messages passed between US and Iran about ‘talking’ after November.

      • Taxi
        October 22, 2012, 2:58 am

        Remember during the democratic race four years ago, Obama said he would “talk to Iran”, Mrs. Clinton said she would “obliterate” Iran.

        You’d better believe they’re talking – both America and Iran stand to lose much if they go to war. And what better way to shut up the warmongers (you know who you are!), kneecap them, push ’em outta the circle of influence except for the two sides to sit at a table and talk DIRECTLY, BILATERALLY!

  4. more progressive
    October 21, 2012, 7:59 pm

    the Times story was denied by the admin, saying that there was no agreement in place, and strongly denied by the iranians.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a news conference in Tehran on Sunday that Iran has no one-on-one negotiations or discussions with the U.S.

    “We don’t have any discussions or negotiations with America,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Sunday told a news conference in Tehran. “The (nuclear) talks are ongoing with the P5+1 group of nations. Other than that, we have no discussions with the United States.” (IRNA/Reuters, 21 October)———–

    • Taxi
      October 22, 2012, 12:25 am

      more prog,
      You just don’t understand high politics do you? Even when countries are engaged in direct warfare and diplomatic relations have been cut, they ALWAYS stay in touch through non-diplomatic back channels – regardless of the ‘official’ statements of both waring parties.

  5. Inanna
    October 21, 2012, 11:54 pm

    The NYT story sounds to me like a trial balloon – announcing something the administration is considering but wants wants to see the reaction to before committing to anything. Hopefully there’ll be enough positive reaction to embolden the White House to move forward with a solution to this to calm that part of the world down and remove some of the fuel that feeds the ‘clash of civilisation’ fearmongers.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    October 22, 2012, 2:11 am

    RE: “‘We do not think Iran should be rewarded with direct talks,’ Mr. Oren said, ‘rather that sanctions and all other possible pressures on Iran must be increased.’ ~ NYT article

    MY COMMENT: Israel’s notion that direct talks are tantamount to a “reward” is the crux of many problems. It is indicative of how very, very far the Likudniks have their heads up . . . um . . . er . . . Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall! ! !

    ALSO SEE: “Is There a Way Beyond Israeli Madness?” [Will the Chosen People and the Exceptional People Go Down Together?] ~ by John Grant, Counterpunch, 8/31/12


    “The patient, by the name of Israel, walks into the room and instantly bursts into a tirade of arguments conclusively proving his credentials, and says that he is better than everyone else.” ~ Ofer Grosbard, ‘Israel On The Couch: The Psychology of the Peace Process’

    Americans have an Israel problem. . .
    . . . The problem Americans have with Israel is that the region it exists in is in the midst of a major political sea change, while Israel is frozen in time and holding on to its militarist, right-wing policies of extending settlements in the West Bank. It’s a policy that harks back to the ideas of the British-trained militarist Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall, which is based on the idea a live-and-let-live policy between Jews and Arabs is impossible and, thus, Jews must militarily control and repress Palestinians [i.e. the mindset of the “pale” – J.L.D.] . . .

    . . . How does a people turn back a racially-oriented demonization program with roots that extend back many decades? How do you ratchet down a nation’s narcissism so people are able to simply see the other as a human being? . . .
    . . . On our part, Americans and the United States need to stop being a permissive yes-man [i.e. a habitual “enabler” ~ J.L.D.] and begin to show Israel some tough love. We need more US criticism of Israel. No doubt this approach will be received with gales of cynical laughter from hardliners . . . but so what?
    In my mind, the Israeli narcissistic and arrogant mindset would benefit from a little Buddhist detachment, more of the posture that sees the world not of separate individual selves and egos but of human beings as part of a larger flow of life. The Buddhists call the self-obsessed, separatist state-of-mind [i.e. the “pale” of Israel surrounded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall – J.L.D.] that Israel thrives on and defends with weapons as “the illusory self.”
    “Once one identifies with a permanent self-concept, the pride and craving adhering to this become the pivot from which an egocentric world arises,” writes Gay Watson, a psychotherapist attuned to Buddhism.

    David Loy puts it this way: “To become completely groundless is also to become completely grounded, not in some particular, but in the whole network of interdependent relations that constitute the world.”
    I’m not suggesting Israel become a Buddhist nation. The point is for Israelis, and more important Americans, to figure a way out of the worsening condition of “us versus them” to avoid the need to obliterate them and set off a war that no one really wants. The point is to re-shape our minds to make “the other” less threatening to permit talking.
    I’m not holding my breath that Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are going to become peace activists. But I’m done as an American being a silent stooge while Israeli militarist madness fuels hatred and sets the stage for war.


  7. manfromatlan
    October 22, 2012, 11:51 am

    Honest debate requires we not deny the possibility of a Iranian nuclear weapons program, or discount what the Likudniks have to say. Classic Goldberg:

    “Did Joe Biden Just Go Soft on Iran?” His point “My worry is that the Iranians get all the other components of a nuclear weapons program in place — a working warhead, a reliable delivery system — ” is well worth discussing.

    My perspective is the Pakistani Nuclear Program. How did they get all three components listed above, seemingly under the noses of all the intelligence services of the world? Even the list of bullcrap published by the organs of the intelligence state, is well, bullcrap. Stolen technology, the Chinese taught them how to build a warhead, the Koreans, a missile? Hmmph.

    You look at two men, Nobel Laureate in Physics Abdus Salam (he wuz robbed of a second one) and Munir Ahmed, the real father of the nuclear program and not AQ Khan, and the work they did developing several generations of brilliant scientists and nuclear physicists. It was a thirty year program, and only the most racially hide bound would state that Pakistanis are intellectually inferior to oh, Israelis or Indians. It would be a mistake to say the same about Iranians, would be my point.

    Yes, Pakistani scientists studied abroad. So have Iranians. Yes, some nuclear technology was passed under the table from America. And who’s to say Iran hasn’t received any from Russia or China, their biggest individual customers? But the Iranians are quite capable of developing all three components of a successful nuclear weapons program on their own, and regardless of the cost, has had the means in place for some time. All you are left with are the promise they would not develop such a system. Knowing Iranians, I think that means they already have the means, just need to put them together. Which they will, inshallah :) Not doing so, would be er, foolish, and one thing they are not, is foolish.

  8. hophmi
    October 22, 2012, 1:18 pm

    “Knowing Iranians, I think that means they already have the means, just need to put them together. Which they will, inshallah :)”

    Not a surprising comment around here.

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