Uncertainty over report that U.S. agrees to direct talks with Iran

Click photo to download. Caption: The IR40 Heavy Water reactor facility, near Arak, Iran. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.(JNS.org) The U.S. and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the New York Times reported Saturday, citing Obama administration officials.

The White House denied the report.

“It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement issued by the White House.

Israeli officials were initially surprised by the report and voiced concerns over the Iranians using negotiations as a ploy to further enhance its nuclear program. 

“We hope that this [report] is unsubstantiated,’” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Army Radio. “I want to believe the denial issued by the White House; they have a lot of experience. The negotiations with Iran did not begin yesterday, and not the day before. There are 10 years of cumulative experience and the Iranians have deceived the Security Council and the P5+1 time and time again.”

The Obama administration in the past has been open to the idea of direct talks with Iran. However, so far the offers have been rebuked. Many analysts believe that hardliners within the Iranian government would be unwilling to sit down with a country they have long demonized as the “Great Satan.” Nevertheless, recent sanctions have hit the Iranians hard—its currency has plummeted over 40 percent in the last couple of weeks. 

Posted on October 22, 2012 .