Iran, and not just Russia and Syria, is taking advantage of President Barack Obama’s decision to refrain from military force against Syria to collect a shower of diplomatic and political dividends.
The new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced Tuesday that the coming meeting of the General Assembly opening in New York later this month “may prove the perfect setting to reignite talks about the nation’s nuclear program.“ The US Treasury Department accordingly lifted a string of sanctions restricting humanitarian and athletic exchanges between US and Iranian NGOs and environmental projects, as a counter-gesture of good will.
Washington was not put off when that comment proved to be an exercise in image-burnishing for the benefit of the West. That same day, the Iranian president declared his country would not give up “one iota of its nuclear capabilities.”
debkafile’s Iranian sources disclose that the posturing on all sides provided the façade for the secret exchange of messages between Washington, Tehran, Moscow and Damascus. They focused first on a Russian pledge to bring Assad’s chemical arsenal under international control and destroyed. This was followed by Tehran consenting to engage in direct dialogue with Washington when the next UN General Assembly session opens in New York on September 23.
Rouhani, who has consistently refused to enter into direct talks with Washington on his government’s nuclear program, said Friday, Sept. 6: “Initial steps in the future of nuclear talks may be taken in New York and then these talks will be pursued by the Group 5 + 1.”
debkafile: For President Obama, the two issues – the disposal of Syria’s chemical weapons and resolution of the nuclear controversy with Iran – were closely interwoven in his quiet exchanges with Vladimir Putin, which emphasized the diplomatic, non-military route.
The Russian leader appears to have assured Obama that an agreed formula for defusing the Syrian chemical weapons issue without military force would provide the key to progress in nuclear talks with Iran.
Our Iranian sources report that Tehran was in on all stages of the discreet Obama-Putin discussions on Syria: High-ranking Iranian officials were present in Damascus and Moscow throughout, and points of agreement were brought to Tehran for approval.
Full details of how this four-handed game was conducted and details of the deals struck between the US, Russia and Iran, will be revealed for the first time in the next issue of DEBKA Weekly out Friday, Sept. 13.
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