The White House is denying a report in the New York Times claiming that they will conduct one-on-one talks with Iran over their nuclear program. The bilateral negotiations, the fruit of a secret back-channel process according to the Times, would not occur until after the Presidential election, at the Iranian’s request, so they can have a sense of the identity of their negotiating partner.
But the White House fairly categorically denied it.
The White House denied that a final agreement had been reached. “It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, said Saturday evening. He added, however, that the administration was open to such talks, and has “said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally.”
Reports of the agreement have circulated among a small group of diplomats involved with Iran.
Obviously this will get viewed in the context of the Presidential election, with the final debate, focused on national security, set for tomorrow. The Obama Administration is not being nearly as shameless as, say, the 1972 Nixon campaign, which announced “peace is at hand” in late October, amid an announcement of negotiations with the North Vietnamese.
We’re not in a military situation with Iran, but there are elements of a war footing. The sanctions (which in the lexicon of Washington are always called “crippling sanctions”) have significantly harmed the Iranian people by causing hyperinflation and shortages. Oil exports have dropped significantly, and the public are feeling the bite. When you talk about sanctions, it’s basically a euphemistic way of talking about starving out a population. The US has justified this with over-hyping of the Iranian nuclear program and rumors of cyberwarfare.