The most significant indicator of Iran’s direct nuclear talks with the Obama administration (see first article in this issue) is the slow but steady rise of the value of the rial versus the dollar by 7.5 percent in the last 11 days. The Iranian currency is still weak but, after losing 300 percent of its value, is beginning to gain ground for the first time in the past year.
More confirmation came in an Internet article on Tuesday, Sept. 17, written by Hossein Moussavian, a former aide to President Hassan Rouhani and member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, in which he revealed that Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had mandated the president to enter into direct talks with the United States.
Moussavian called this a “last chance that will not recur” for bringing to an end decades of enmity between the two countries.
It is significant that, although the writer is close to the former president Hashem Rafsanjani, long out of favor with the supreme leader, his article was nonetheless allowed to see the light of day.
DEBKA Weekly’s Iranian sources reveal here for the first time the high points of the ground so far covered between Washington and Tehran. They also disclose that those points closely follow the reconciliation plan which Rafsanjani crafted when he was president in the 1990s.
Now, the former outcast is again in good standing in Tehran and one of the most influential presidential advisers after years of being cast out in the cold by Khamenei.
Iran will keep its enriched uranium stocks
In their secret diplomatic exchanges, the Obama administration and Tehran reached agreement on four points:
- Iran’s nuclear capabilities will be preserved in their present state. Tehran has thus won the respect it demanded for its right to enrich uranium and maintain in the country all accumulated stocks, including the quantities enriched to the 20 percent level (a short hop to weaponised grade).
- Tehran accepts a cap on the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at the Natanz facility. The exact number has not been decided.
DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report that the number of machines for enriching uranium to 5 percent is still at issue. There are no restrictions on the centrifuges for a lower level of purity.
Discussions on this point have not been finalized, since Washington wants to limit the number of advanced IR2 and IR1 centrifuges in operation and Tehran is holding out against this,
Monday, Sept. 16, the German Spiegel Online claimed that at the UN General Assembly this month President Rouhani would offer to decommission the Fordo enrichment plant and allow international inspectors to monitor the removal of the centrifuges, in return for the US and Europe rescinding sanctions, including the ban on Iranian oil exports and international business with Iran’s central bank.
The Fordo facility which began operations underground in 2011 is reputed to be “virtually indestructible.”
This report was denied by Tehran, seen as it was as a US-European trial balloon to test the limits of Iranian flexibility on the enriched uranium issue.
The US and EU will gradually lift all sanctions
- Iran will sign the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty-NPT, which allows International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to make unannounced visits outside declared nuclear sites, which are suspected of carrying out banned operations.
It will also allow the IAEA to install cameras in the chambers where the centrifuges are spinning and not just the areas where the enriched uranium is deposited.
Here too, it is not clear whether Tehran will also demand that Israel sign the same article and permit inspections of its nuclear sites.
- The US and European Union will gradually lift all sanctions.
Rouhani mandated at highest level to interact with US
Amir Moussavi, a middleman between Obama and Tehran from 2009 until early 2012, told the Iranian Fars News Agency this week that President Rouhani has received the green light from Ayatollah Khamenei to engage in “diplomatic maneuvers” with Washington.
He explained that the supreme leader used the term “heroic leniency” for entering into this process, in consideration of the fluid situation in the region and the clamorous US demands to embark on diplomacy.
Even before Barack Obama agreed to a summit with Rouhani at the UN General Assembly later this month, Moussavi predicted that this forum would see important strategic talks, culminating in an Obama-Rouhani meeting and another round with the 5 + 1 forum (the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany).
Rouhani has been given the political and diplomatic mandate at the highest level to interact with the United States in measured and balanced dialogue.
The Iranian writer also confirmed to the Fars agency, debkafile’s exclusive disclosures about the roles of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al-Said of Oman and the UN Deputy Secretary, former US ambassador to Syria Jeffrey Feltman in delivering important messages to Tehran from the White House.
A dramatic breakthrough is therefore predicted – both on the international diplomatic level and in dialogue with Washington.
All that remains, according to Mousavi, is to persuade the heads of the Iranian clergy, the Majlis, the armed forces and various classes of Iranian society that their leaders are acting for the national benefit to heal relations with the United States and the world, without foregoing national honor and independence.