Apparently its a good week for big-name reporters getting anonymous scoops. The WaPo’s David Ignatius has his own today.
President Obama has signaled Iran that the United States would accept an Iranian civilian nuclear program if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei can back up his recent public claim that his nation ”œwill never pursue nuclear weapons.”
This verbal message was sent through Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visited Khamenei last week. A few days before traveling to Iran, Erdogan had held a two-hour meeting with Obama in Seoul, in which they discussed what Erdogan would tell the ayatollah about the nuclear issue and Syria.
Obama advised Erdogan that the Iranians should realize that time is running out for a peaceful settlement and that Tehran should take advantage of the current window for negotiations. Obama didn’t specify whether Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium domestically as part of the civilian program the United States would endorse. That delicate issue evidently would be left for the negotiations that are supposed to start April 13, at a venue yet to be decided.
Erdogan is said to have replied that he would convey Obama’s views to Khamenei, and it’s believed he did so when he met the Iranian leader on Thursday. Erdogan also met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian officials during his visit.
Unlike Hersh, Agent Iggie doesn’t even acknowledge his anonymous benefactor – there’s no mention at all of a source in Ignatius’ piece, we’re just to take it as gospel that he wouldn’t just lie and make shit up. Still, it’s fairly obvious that this is definitely one of those “officially unofficial” leaks to the press that people like Ignatius have sold their souls for.
But more importantly – how was the signal received? Well, Ignatius himself notes that the Iranians are being grumpy about using Istanbul as a venue for the talks due to begin on the 14th, Iranian officials are criticizing former president Rafsanjani for suggesting talks with the US could be fuitful and Erdogan has slammed Iran as not being honest saying “The offers going round at the moment, Damascus or Baghdad, are a waste of time; it means it won’t happen, because they know the other side won’t come to Damascus or Baghdad”.
With Hilary Clinton already having warned Iran that this is its final chance before the “other options on the table” start dropping from US warplanes, things aren’t looking promising.