Last week, in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi suggested that Tehran could be ready to make a deal, provided Iran’s right to enrichment is recognized and a supply of fuels is sent into Iran from abroad. As I wrote last week, these conciliatory proposals are as old as the Iranian-American relationship itself, and there is little reason to believe such a proposal might be adopted outside the existing P5+1 framework.
Reports are emerging, however, that a deal might actually be in the works. An Iranian source claimed yesterday that the Iranian government is considering a unilateral suspension of enrichment in an effort to “save Barack Obama’s presidency.” Reza Kahlili, a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, released the report, adding that a three-person delegation from the White House met with Ali Akbar Velayati, a close confidant of the Supreme Leader. The meeting was apparently led by a “woman engaged in secret negotiations.”
If true, the woman could be Valerie Jarrett – a senior advisor to the President with a long interest in Iranian politics. Jarrett, born in Shiraz, is reported to have the ear of the President on issues concerning Iran outside typical national security channels. Her direct involvement in negotiations is unusual, but certainly possible. It would be far more difficult for a senior NSC staffer, or principal in another agency, to hold these meetings without public scrutiny.
To be fair, Reza Kahlili has made dubious claims in the past. His writings tend to be overly alarmist, and he has frequently published reports from sources challenging the assertion that Iran has not yet decided to develop a nuclear weapon.