“President Obama has quietly signaled to 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 ‘will never pursue nuclear weapons,” the Washington Post’s foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius said.
Obama sent the message to Tehran through Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who delivered it to Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei last week, said Ignatius.
A few days before traveling to Iran, Erdogan had held a two-hour meeting with Obama in Seoul in which Obama said that he still expected Iran to take advantage of this window of opportunity and hold talks with the six world powers.
Iran has agreed to go ahead next week with the talks, despite some wrangling over the venue being Istanbul or Baghdad or China.
“The Erdogan back channel to Iran is the most dramatic evidence yet of the close relationship Obama has forged with the Turkish leader. Erdogan, who heads an Islamist party that is often cited as a model by Muslim democrats, has been a key U.S. partner in handling Syria and other crises flowing from the Arab Spring uprisings.”
“A sign of Erdogan’s role as intermediary is that he was accompanied, both in the meeting with Obama and on the trip to Iran, by Hakan Fidan, the chief of Turkey’s intelligence service. Fidan is said to have close relations with Qassem Suleimani, who heads Iran’s Quds Force and is probably Khamenei’s closest adviser on security issues. Also joining Erdogan was Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister.”
“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons,” Khamenei said in February. “Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”
Ignatius added that “the challenge for negotiators is whether it’s possible to turn Khamenei’s public rhetoric into a serious and verifiable commitment not to build a bomb.”
Must Read the whole article titled: Obama’s signal to Iran. (Washington Post).