President Obama acknowledged in an ABC interview Sunday that he has been exchanging letters with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani.
Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he has communicated with Iran’s leaders in “indirect ways.”
“Have you reached out personally to the new president?” Stephanopoulos asked. “I have,” Obama replied, “and– and he’s reached out to me. We haven’t spoken– directly. But–”
“Letters,” Stephanopoulos interjected. “Yeah,” Obama replied.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller’s request for a copy or characterization of the letters.
But Irannuc.ir — a media outlet that is close to the Iranian intelligence community and has quoted several Iranian authorities over the years on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program — revealed in a piece last week part of a letter sent by Obama to Rowhani.
A source told Irannuc.ir that such a letter was received and that it did not contain anything new. “It seems that sending the letter was more important for the Americans rather than the content of it because realistically the letter did not contain anything more than political pleasantries,” the source said.
“Up until now, two letters from Obama to Iran have been addressed to the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] and the supreme leader responded once by stating that he will consider America’s actions rather than words,” the source said. “However, now the U.S. president has changed to whom he has addressed his letter, which seems to be his main goal.”
The source listed three goals of the new Obama letter: First, the U.S. will consider the recent presidential changes in Iran in its policies. Second, it considers Rowhani a “respectable counterpart inside Iran” and that the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad era is over. And third, Washington wants Rowhani to act as a middleman to “bargain with the supreme leader to accept the West’s position.”
“Of course, the Americans are making a mistake again,” the source said. “Rowhani is part of the system and a force of the leader and such a simple plan to create division won’t deceive him.”
Another source revealed some of the main points of Obama’s letter:
• Obama emphasized that he has heard the message from the Iranian people in the June elections that Rowhani won.
• The American government is ready to reduce sanctions in case of a serious diplomatic push by Iran.
• Positive statements by Iranian officials are important but not enough; in order to show change, Iran must take practical steps to restore international confidence.
• Obama stressed U.S. readiness for direct talks with Iran.
According to Mashregh News, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards, the Iranian response to Obama’s letter has already been sent to Washington. Javad Zarif, the newly appointed foreign minister of the Rowhani administration who prepared the response, told the Obama administration that “the U.S. first needs to change its policies and behavior toward Iran,” Mashregh reported.
As reported last year, Iranian officials revealed the contents of an earlier Obama letter to Khamenei that indicated a deep desire by the U.S. president for dialogue with the radical leaders of Iran. In addition, Iranian officials said that an oral message by Obama was delivered through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran and was even more revealing than the letter delivered to the supreme leader.
Hossein Ebrahimi, the vice chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said that in the meeting between Swiss Ambassador Livia Leu Agosti and Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, Agosti informed the Iranian officials that Obama recognizes Iran’s right of access to and use of nuclear technology.
Ebarhimi also disclosed another important point that the Swiss diplomat delivered: Obama said that “I didn’t want to impose sanctions on your central bank, but I had no options but to approve it since a Congress majority had approved the decision.”
Iran has continuously believed that the Obama administration will not engage the Islamic regime militarily and that it will have no choice but to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
Meanwhile, Rowhani, who is set to travel to New York to attend the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly this month, has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Tehran to plan their approach on the Iranian nuclear issue and reduce international pressure on the country. Iranian leaders are emboldened by the recent actions by Putin in standing up to America in the face of a threatened attack on Syria. Russia and the U.S. reached agreement Saturday to take control of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal by mid-2014.
The Islamic regime is continuing its nuclear program despite multiple U.N. resolutions and sanctions by America and European countries and currently has enough enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs if further enriched.
The regime has been recognized by the U.N. as being one of the worst human rights violators in the world, with daily execution of political prisoners. The Islamic system bars free elections, and anyone speaking against it is designated a “Mohareb” — an enemy of God — and killed without due process.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book ”A Time to Betray“ (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).