by Stephen Lendman
To talk or not to talk. What's sensible is twisted to be complicated. Claiming an existential Iranian threat is red herring cover. At issue is long-planned regime change.
Washington's had no direct diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980. Instead of forthrightly explaining why, the State Department said America "has long-standing concerns over Iran's nuclear program, sponsorship of terrorism, and human rights records."
In fact, millions worldwide have well-founded fears about Washington on these and other major issues. Iran threatens no one. Its nuclear program is peaceful. America threatens humanity. Global wars it wages may destroy it.
On October 20, The New York Times headlined "US Officials Say Iran Has Agreed to Nuclear Talks," saying:
Direct one-on-one negotiations were agreed to for the first time. Doing so "set(s) the stage for what could be a last-ditch diplomatic effort to avert a military strike on Iran."
Iranian officials insist on waiting until after US elections. Better be sure they're talking to their right counterparts.
"News of the agreement….comes at a critical time in the presidential contest….(I)intense, secret exchanges" preceded it. Obama may want to claim a diplomatic breakthrough. At the same time, he risks opposition elements claiming he's letting Tehran buy time.
In campaign mode, Romney is hardline. He accuses Obama of being soft on Iran and expressing less than full support for Israel. If elected, conciliatory efforts won't be fast-tracked. Regime change perhaps by war will be prioritized.
According to White House spokesman Tommy Vietor:
"It's not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections." He added that Obama officials are open to such talks. They "said from the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally."
The Times said Iran wants multiple issues discussed. Much more is important regionally than its nuclear program. An unnamed US official told The Times, "We've always seen the nuclear issue as independent. We're not going to allow (Tehran) to draw a linkage."
Former Bush administration under secretary of state Nicholas Burns said, "It would be unconscionable to go to war if we haven't had such discussions."
Iran's nuclear program "is the most difficult national security issue facing the United States. While we should preserve the use of force as a last resort, negotiating first with Iran makes sense. What are we going to do instead? Drive straight into a brick wall called war in 2013, and not try to talk to them?"
Israel's US ambassador Michael Oren said Obama officials hadn't discussed direct talks with his government. Israel fears Iran would use them to "advance their nuclear weapons program."
Washington and Tel Aviv, of course, know Tehran's nuclear program is legal and peaceful. Admitting it would undermine their anti-Iranian agenda. Oren added that Israel doesn't "think Iran should be rewarded with direct talks." Sanctions and "other pressures….must be increased."
An unnamed US official said possible direct talks explain why more P5+1 discussions haven't been scheduled.
On October 21, Reuters headlined "Iran, like US, denies plan for one-on-one nuclear talks," saying:
"Iran followed the United States on Sunday in denying that the two countries had scheduled direct bilateral negotiations on Iran's controversial nuclear program."
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, "We don't have any discussions or negotiations with America." Nuclear "talks are ongoing with the P5+1 group of nations. Other than that, we have no discussions with the United States."
He expects more talks in late November. According to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Aston's spokesman, "(W)e hope that we will pick up discussions soon, but there is no date at the moment."
Press TV reported "Russia (is) ready to mediate US-Iran talks." It's also ready to help initiate them. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said, "If somebody asks us to help establish direct (Washington/Tehran) dialogue, we are ready to help" get it started.
Obama's been back and forth on this several times. It's unclear where he stands now. Reelection is prioritized. Doing so requires acting tough on Iran. Shifting from isolating Tehran to more normal relations isn't likely.
Given longstanding regime change plans, neither party will tolerate it. Alleged Iranian obstinacy will be blamed. Tehran prefers normal relations with all countries. Washington makes it impossible. So does Israel.
Press TV said "Israel bites back at US over Iran talks." Tel Aviv won't tolerate them. It never did before and won't now.
On October 21, Haaretz headlined "Top ministers: Israel knows nothing of breakthrough in Iran-US nuclear talks," saying:
On Sunday, NBC said senior Obama officials "confirmed that back-door talks had taken place, adding that a meeting has yet to be set."
P5+1 countries were told what took place. Later on Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Abkar Salehi denied the report. Israel knows nothing about them. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he wasn't kept informed.
He opposes renewed negotiations. He wants tougher sanctions on top of current ones. Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon also has no information on direct talks. He said:
"It's no secret that clandestine contacts between the Americans and the Iranians had taken place, and that there had been attempts to take advantage of the fact that the United States is part of the talks the six powers are holding with the Iranians in order to advance direct negotiations."
"Iran has consistently refused to hold above-board talks with the United States."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he and others in his ministry have no direct knowledge of what, if anything, is going on.
On October 21, Haaretz headlined "Netanyahu" Israel unaware of any breakthrough in US-Iran nuclear talks."
Speaking at a Home Front Command drill, Netanyahu said:
"Iran is using negotiations and talks in order to gain time and advance its nuclear program. I have no reason to believe that in talks with the U.S. Iran would behave differently."
"The diplomatic way to halt the nuclear program is a combination of harsh sanctions and a military option. As long as I am the prime minister of Israel, I would not allow Iran to reach military nuclear capability."
A senior source in his office added:
"Iran must halt all uranium enrichment, remove the enriched uranium in its possession from the country, and to dismantle the underground facility near Qom."
"The only way this will happen is stepping up sanctions on Iran in addition to a credible military threat against Iran."
In 2009, Obama promised to engage Iran. Instead he prioritized confrontation, not conciliation. Don't expect turnaround breakthroughs post-election.
Regime change plans are longstanding. Republicans and Democrats are in lockstep. Israel wants a regional rival removed. War is the final solution.
It's shocking that voters keep electing officials supporting agendas harming their self-interest. Maybe one day they'll realize that throwing out bums for new ones never works.
Changing the world means doing it on our own. It never happens any other way.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.