U.S. Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks

Helen Cooper and Mark Landler
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The United States and Iran have agreed in principle for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, according to Obama administration officials, setting the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran.

Iranian officials have insisted that the talks wait until after the presidential election, a senior administration official said, telling their American counterparts that they want to know with whom they would be negotiating.

News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time.

It is also far from clear that Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, would go through with the negotiation should he win election. Mr. Romney has repeatedly criticized the president as showing weakness on Iran and failing to stand firmly with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat…

…There is still a chance the initiative could fall through, even if Mr. Obama is re-elected. Iran has a history of using the promise of diplomacy to ease international pressure on it. In this case, American officials said they were uncertain whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had signed off on the effort. The American understandings have been reached with senior Iranian officials who report to him, an administration official said…

The complete article is at The New York Times.

H/T WorldNetDaily

…The source, who remains anonymous for security reasons and is highly placed in Iran’s regime, said that once Khamenei receives Obama’s guarantees, he will authorize an announcement by Iran on a solution to the nuclear crisis before the U.S. presidential elections.

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.

French intelligence verified today that Yukiya Amano, the current director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been given the go-ahead by the U.S. to be ready to travel to Iran and announce the agreement, according to Hamid Reza Zakeri, a former intelligence officer in the regime who has defected to Europe.

The source in Tehran said Khamenei has made it clear that unless he receives Obama’s written guarantees, he will not begin the process, which would dramatically boost Obama’s re-election chances. If the guarantees are not given, Khamenei has warned, Iran will speed up its nuclear program…

…In the past five months, four meetings were held in the U.S. with the Islamic regime’s surrogates to hash out what was to be discussed at the Doha meeting. The source identified Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser, as the head of the U.S. effort to engage Iran. Also identified was Cyrus Amir Mokri, assistant secretary of the Treasury Department for financial institutions, as another member advising the president on the issue.

Jarrett’s family has known the Velayati family since their stay in Iran in the 1950s, the source added. Jarrett’s father worked at the Namazi hospital in Shiraz, owned by an Iranian family that has been influential with the regime after the Islamic Revolution…

…Reza Kahlili will discuss this breaking story on an upcoming edition of “Fox and Friends,” time to be announced…

Related: White House Battles NYT Over Iran Nuclear Report

With the presidential election potentially riding on Monday’s foreign policy debate, the White House is denying a New York Times report that the Obama administration has for the first time agreed to one-on-one talks with Iran over its nuclear program.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement that the White House is open to talking one-on-one with Iran to find a diplomatic settlement to the impasse over Tehran’s reported pursuit of nuclear weapons, but there’s no agreement now to meet.

“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” the statement said. “We continue to work with the P-5 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council) on a diplomatic solution and have said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”…


Report – Israel says Obama admin ‘had not informed’ them of upcoming U.S. talks with Iran

Related: Iran expanding arms race to cyberspace, say experts

…“Since (the Green Movement of) 2009, they made technology their priority,” said Heap, who also works on developing technologies for increasing Internet freedom…

…The uprising was ultimately – and brutally – crushed. But it demonstrated the Iranian people’s ability to use the Internet and social media sites to organize and voice disenchantment against the regime…

Iran: How long can debt-laden US remain world power?

…Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted the impending downfall of the “US empire,” blaming the collapse on a combination of the country’s massive debt and its loss of legitimacy within the international community, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported Thursday.

“How long can a government with a $16 trillion foreign debt remain a world power?” he asked at a press conference with Kuwaiti media personnel. “The Americans have injected their paper wealth into the world economy and today the aftermaths and negative effects of their pseudo-wealth have plagued them.”…

Update: Shockah! New York Times Caught Editing Iran Story After White House Denials. Which means the story we thought we were linking to might be completely different from the one you end up reading now.

Update 2: ‘Some Stuff Is Likely To Get Taken Out’  New York Times quietly modifies stories on Iran, Romney’s Libya response

Update 3: Portman: Iran story looks like “another national security leak from the White House”

Nobody owning up to US-Iran talks story

Update 4: According to Iranians, This Swiss Diplomat – Photographed with Hillary – Has Been Handling the Iran-USA Negotiations The Swiss Ambassador to Tehran  – Livia Leu Agosti

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