The moderate mien of Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani has had its intended effect – even before nuclear dialogue began. President Barack Obama had only one demand of Tehran: “Iran would have to demonstrate its own seriousness by agreement not to weaponise nuclear power,” he said Wednesday, Sept. 18. He thus took at his word Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who declared the day before: “We are against nuclear weapons. And when we say no one should have nuclear weapons, we definitely do not pursue it ourselves either.”
The symmetry between the words from Washington and Tehran was perfect in content and timing – and not by chance.
debkafile’s Washington and Iranian sources disclose that it was choreographed in advance.
Obama and Khamenei have been exchanging secret messages through Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, who visited Tehran in the last week of August and conferred with both Khameini and Rouhani.
In the last message, carried to Tehran by Oman’s Defense Minister Sayyid Badr bin Saud Al Busaidiat, the US president said that Rouhani’s conciliatory gestures towards Washington needed to be backed up by an explicit pledge not to weaponise Iran’s nuclear program.
That pledge must come from the supreme leader in person and delivered publicly to Iran’s most hawkish audience, Revolutionary Guards chiefs.
And indeed, Khamenei acted out his part Tuesday under TV cameras.
Full details of the exchanges going back and both between Washington and Tehran will appear in the coming DEBKA Weekly 603 out Friday, Sept. 20.
They will confirm that the US president has come to terms with a nuclear-capable Iran and will be satisfied with Ayatollah Khamenei’s word that Tehran will not take the last step to actually assemble a bomb.
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Our sources note that in his direct secret dialogue with Tehran, Obama is pursuing the same tactics he used for the Syrian chemical issue with Russian President Vladmir Putin: Moving fast forward on the secret track while pretending that the process is still at an early stage and then a sudden leap to target – a particular form of diplomacy consisting of verbal calisthenics.
This pretense was played out at the G20, when the two presidents acted as though they were irreconcilably divided on the Syrian question, while secretly tying up the ends of the chemical accord.
Obama’s willingness to accept Khamenei’s oft-repeated assurance that his country’s nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes – while letting its military program advance to the brink – leaves Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lagging far behind and his Iranian policy with nowhere to go.
At the Israeli cabinet meeting Tuesday, the prime minister said his White House talks with President Obama on Sept. 30 would focus on Iran and his four demands:
1) Complete halt of uranium enrichment; 2) Removal of enriched materials from Iran; 3) Closure of the Fordo enrichment plant; 4) Termination of plutonium production at Arak.
Notwithstanding the briefing offered by Secretary of State John Kerry when he visited Jerusalem on Sunday, Sept. 15, it looks as though Obama is keeping the Israeli prime minister in the dark on his moves towards Iran.