An Iranian lawmaker claims that President Obama sent a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei offering to talk directly with the Islamic regime to resolve the growing crisis while threatening that Iran’s closing of the Strait of Hormuz was a “red line” for America.
Administration officials deny a letter was sent while the Iranian foreign ministry and the official Fars News Agency confirm the letter’s existence.
Conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari revealed the content of the letter days after the Obama administration said it was warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.
“In the letter, Obama called for direct talks with Iran,” the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted Motahari as saying Wednesday. “The letter also said that closing the Strait of Hormuz is (Washington’s) red line.”
“The first part of the letter contains threats and the second part contains an offer for dialogue,” he added.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast confirmed that Tehran received the letter and was considering a possible response.
In Washington, an Obama administration official denied that Obama sent a letter to Khamanei, saying communication of U.S. views were being delivered through other diplomatic messages. The official would give no further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor pointed to earlier comments from the Obama administration that noted the U.S. had a number of ways to communicate its views to the Iranian government. He said the U.S. remained committed to engaging with Tehran and finding a diplomatic solution to its larger issues with Iran’s nuclear program.
The fact that previous efforts to engage the Iranians in talks have been met with scorn and mockery by the regime makes Obama’s actions curious. What signals has Iran sent that would lead the president to believe his entreaties would be met with a different attitude by the Iranian government? Has there been any indication that there has been a change in the Iranian government’s position that would make such talks more likely to succeed?
Trying to stop a war by directly engaging a potential enemy in discussions that might lead to a peaceful resolution to a crisis is admirable — as long as there is a reasonable basis to think that negotiations would be successful. We have made it clear in the past that direct talks won’t start until Iran stops its enrichment program. They have continually refused to do so.
This begs the obvious question; if they’re not going to stop enriching uranium while talks are going on, what’s to stop them from completing work on a bomb even while engaging in dialogue? Peace is preferable to war. Peace at any price is not.