Sunday, February 01, 2009

Obama's secret nuke talks with Iran exposed
Even before election, president began 'open fist' negotiations

Posted: February 01, 2009
8:34 pm Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi


Jeffrey Boutwell, executive director of the Pugwash Group

The Obama administration has quietly initiated previously undisclosed back-channel negotiations with both Iran and Syria, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

Even before winning the November 4 election, Obama initiated "two track" discussions with Iran and Syria, using top-level experts to begin talks, according to Jeffrey Boutwell, the executive director for the U.S. branch of the Pugwash Group, an international organization of scientists who champion international nuclear disarmament.

Former Defense Secretary William Perry, who served in Obama's election campaign, participated in some of these meetings covering "a wide range of issues that separate Iran from the West: not only their nuclear program but the Middle East peace process," Boutwell told AFP.

"We had very, very senior figures from both the Iranian policy establishment and from the United States," Boutwell said, "people who have very close, good access to the top leaders in both countries."

The Cable, a blog established for the magazine Foreign Policy, confirmed that Perry and "a group of high-level U.S. nuclear nonproliferation specialists and U.S. experts on Iran" held a series of meetings in European cities with Iranian officials under the auspices of the Pugwash Group.

The Cable disclosed that Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, participated in the talks with Perry.

The Cable reported the meetings were spearheaded by Pugwash's General Secretary Paolo Cotta Ramassino and consisted of four meetings over the past year, including three meetings in The Hague and a two-day December meeting in Vienna.

The disclosure comes as Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party in Israel and the leading candidate for prime minister in Israel's scheduled February 10 general elections, vowed that Iran would never be permitted to be armed with a nuclear weapon, as reported by the Associated Press.

In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 TV, Netanyahu said that if he is elected prime minister his first mission will be to thwart the Iranian nuclear threat, even if it requires utilizing the military option.

In his first televised interview with Al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based 24-hour Arabic language news service, Obama said the United States would offer Iran an extended hand of diplomacy, provided the Islamic Republic's leaders "unclenched their fist."

Meanwhile, Iran has taken an aggressive posture with regards to possible direct negotiations with the Obama administration.

Iran's government spokesman Gholam Hossein Ehlam told the Iranian Mehr news agency that the request for direct talks "means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," the Associated Press reported.

"Negotiation is secondary," Elham added. "The main issue is that there is no way but for [the United States] to change."

Characteristically, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took up the challenge by insisting that President Obama apologize for U.S. "crimes" against Iran, including apologizing for the CIA's role in the 1953 overthrow of Iranian then-Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and for the U.S. backing of Iraq in the 1980s war Iran fought against Iraq, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Pugwash Group, according to its home website in the U.K., has its origin in the Russell-Einsein Manifesto of 1955, which called on scientists to oppose the development of thermonuclear weapons.

The Pugwash group is named after the venue of its first meeting in the Canadian village of Pugwash in 1957.

In 1995, the Pugwash group was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with its then-president, Joseph Rotblat.

Foreign Policy magazine is published by the Slate Group, a division of WashingtonPost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC, in Washington, D.C.


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