Last week, Reza Kahlili, a former Revolutionary Guard member wrote that Iran had reached a deal with Obama to preserve portions of its nuclear program in exchange for giving up other parts of it. This deal would have worked about as well as attempts to reach a similar arrangement with North Korea did.
The agreement calls for Iran to announce a temporary halt to partial uranium enrichment after which the U.S. will remove many of its sanctions, including those on the Iranian central bank, no later than by the Iranian New Year in March. Iran is in the throes of massive inflation and citizen unrest because of the sanctions.
The guarantees would ensure the regime’s right to peaceful enrichment, quickly remove many 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. Also, the U.S. would announce that the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists was the work of a foreign country, though Israel would not be named, to increase legal pressure on Israel.
Under this arrangement, Iran would get a major financial boost and the agreement, even if kept, would act as a truce, allowing the Iranian regime to replenish its economy before heading to the final stage of its nuclear program, without making a public announcement to catch everyone by surprise.
A few days later, the New York Times ran a report claiming that Obama and Iran had agreed to one-on-one negotiations scheduled for after the election.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor then denied that a meeting had been scheduled, but agreed that such a meeting could happen in the process of further negotiations. This was widely treated by the media as a complete denial of the New York Times report. Iran offered a blank denial of any meetings with the United States.
However NBC’s Obama Administration sources reported that back channel negotiations were ongoing between Iran and Obama’s people, but that there was no official scheduled meeting. The New York Times has since revised its story and other experts have weighed in suggesting that the back channel talks are indeed going somewhere.
And then there is this Iranian report
Senior Iranian parliamentary sources revealed on Saturday that the Swiss envoy to Tehran has quoted US President Barack Obama as acknowledging Iran’s nuclear rights.
“There are a couple of points with regard to this (US) message (to Iran),” Ebrahimi said and added, “Firstly, during the session to submit the message, the Swiss ambassador to Tehran quoted the US president as saying that ‘we (the US) recognize your nuclear rights’.”
As regards the second issue, the lawmaker said that the Swiss diplomat had also quoted Obama as saying that “I didn’t want to impose sanctions on your central bank but I had no options but to approve it since a Congress majority had approved the decision.”
“The US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice had handed a letter to Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khazayee; the Swiss Ambassador to Tehran (Livia Leu Agosti) also conveyed the same thing; and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani delivered the same message to Iranian officials,” he said last Sunday.
From all these reports, a few things seem clear. Covert negotiations are indeed being carried out with the aim of moving those negotiations into the public arena. Obama would like an agreement before the election, but Iran is much less interested in making a deal with a lame duck.
The amount of time left before the election is fairly limited, so an October Surprise consisting of a nuclear agreement with Iran would have to derive almost entirely from secret negotiations. This wouldn’t be unprecedented, but it would hurt its credibility further.
The purpose of such an agreement would be to give Obama a foreign policy triumph, but Israel would never accept a sham agreement that freed Iran to develop its nuclear program further and that would just restart the entire debate all over again. Trying to use this surprise to recover Jewish voters would be chancy and it appears that Obama is abandoning Florida. Using it to influence national security conscious voters would be equally tricky.
An Iran agreement is still possible, but it’s more likely to be one of Obama’s revenges on Netanyahu and an incoming Romney Administration. But it appears the Iranians are not that eager to sign an agreement that will be disavowed by the next White House.
Obama’s military October Surprise, or November Surprise, at this point, is likely to involve bombing raids targeting the Benghazi attackers, but he still has not gotten permission from the Libyan government to carry out such strikes. Instead he will likely have to carry out such strikes outside Libya, or go ahead with them against the will of the Libyan government and the advice of Valerie Jarrett and Ambassador Rice.
Valerie Jarrett is almost certainly pushing for an Iranian agreement to nail down his “legacy”. But the legacy will be little more than the creation of another North Korea.