Report: Talks on Iran's Nuclear Program Began in 2011 with U.S. Acknowledging Tehran's Right to Enrich Uranium

A report from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) offers some shocking revelations on when negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program began and the point at which we abandoned the long-time American policy that no talks would take place until Iran stopped enriching uranium.


The ostensible reason for beginning the P5+1 talks in 2013 was the election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani — the supposed “moderate” leader. Instead, a letter sent in 2011 via Oman from the then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry, was directed to the government of former fanatical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In it, the U.S. guaranteed the right of Iran to enrich uranium on its own soil.

In a speech he delivered on June 23, 2015, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said that the American administration had initiated the nuclear talks with Iran during Ahmadinejad’s term in office, based on a U.S. recognition of a nuclear Iran: “The issue of negotiating with the Americans is related to the term of the previous [Ahmadinejad] government, and to the dispatching of a mediator to Tehran to request talks. At the time, a respected regional figure came to me as a mediator [referring to Omani Sultan Qaboos] and explicitly said that U.S. President [Obama] had asked him to come to Tehran and present an American request for negotiations. The Americans told this mediator: ‘We want to solve the nuclear issue and lift sanctions within six months, while recognizing Iran as a nuclear power.’ I told that mediator that I did not trust the Americans and their words, but after he insisted, I agreed to reexamine this topic, and negotiations began.”[2]

Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam: Kerry Sent Iran A Letter Via Oman Recognizing Iran’s Enrichment Rights

In an interview with the Tasnim news agency on July 7, 2015, Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, an advisor to Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani, said that John Kerry had relayed a letter to Tehran recognizing Iran’s enrichment rights: “We came to the [secret] negotiations [with the U.S.] after Kerry wrote a letter and sent it to us via Oman, stating that America officially recognizes Iran’s rights regarding the [nuclear fuel] enrichment cycle. Then there were two meetings in Oman between the [Iranian and U.S.] deputy foreign ministers, and after those, Sultan Qaboos was dispatched by Obama to Khamenei with Kerry’s letter. Khamenei told him: ‘I don’t trust them.’ Sultan Qaboos said: ‘Trust them one more time.’ On this basis the negotiations began, and not on the basis of sanctions, as they [the Americans] claim in their propaganda.”[3]

Salehi: Obama Appointed Senator Kerry To Handle The Nuclear Dossier Vis-à-vis Iran; Later He Was Appointed Secretary Of   State

Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi and head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, who was restored to the nuclear negotiation team this year, served as Iran’s foreign minister in 2010-2013. In interviews he has given on Iranian media since April 2014, he too claimed that the Americans initiated the secret talks with Iran in 2011-2012, and stressed his role in jumpstarting the process from the Iranian side.


If true, this explains a lot. Was Kerry really the best choice for secretary of State? I, and I’m sure many others, thought not. Kerry was not nominated by the president for his brains. He was nominated because his confirmation would be a snap.

But how many senators would have voted for him if they knew he was in secret negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program?

The secrecy behind the initiative is not surprising, given the depth of enmity between the two countries. But starting out negotiations by giving up your hole card is outrageously stupid. We had been telling Iran for 10 years or more that we would not begin talks to lift sanctions until they gave up their enrichment program. Instead of dangling that bait in front of Iranian noses, Obama tossed it into the pot without even thinking.

Indeed, as Andrew McCarthy p0ints out in NRO, the president constantly misled the public on this issue:

The Obama administration has repeatedly signaled to Congress and the public that it was holding the line against a right to enrichment. In fact, as Henry Sokolski and Greg Jones of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center noted here at National Review when Obama announced the “interim agreement” with Iran in late 2013, the administration made a point of assuring that the interim agreement “does not concede that Iran has a right to enrich uranium.”


There is, moreover, good reason to conclude that the Iranians are a reliable source on this point. Since the “right to enrichment” has been their top agenda item from the start, it was undoubtedly a key consideration in the regime’s decision to engage in the negotiations Obama was so anxious to have. Furthermore, Iran has been consistent in its public statements about this issue, while the Obama administration has been slippery to the point of embarrassment.

Obama’s capitulation is a national-security disaster. Not only will it inexorably arm the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with nuclear weapons. There is no conceding Iran’s right to enrich uranium without conceding every nation’s right to enrich uranium.


As I’ve mentioned previously, I really hope President Obama’s first post-presidency job is as a used car salesman. Given his penchant to give the store away during negotiations, I might just walk off the lot with a free car.

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