Obama sent letter to Iran’s Khamenei; Israel kept in the dark

In secret letter, U.S. president says cooperation in fight against ISIS hinges on reaching a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

By Barak Ravid, HAARETZ

obama khamU.S. President Barack Obama sent a secret letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last month, in which he wrote that the two nations have shared interests in fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, but that any cooperation between Tehran and Washington on this issue would hinge upon reaching an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program by the November 24 deadline, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The White House did not inform either Israel or America’s Gulf State allies, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, about the letter, which was sent in mid-October, according to the report.

The White House refused to either confirm or deny the report. At a daily briefing for reporters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he cannot discuss private correspondence between the president and other world leaders.

But the Wall Street Journal reported that senior administration officials didn’t deny the letter’s existence when asked about it by foreign diplomats over the past few days. It’s possible the diplomats in question were members of the high-level Israeli delegation that went to Washington last week for talks with the administration over Iran’s nuclear program. The delegation was headed by National Security Advisor Joseph Cohen, and the visit included a private meeting between Cohen and his American counterpart, Susan Rice.

Earnest said that senior American and Iranian officials have discussed the battle against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, on the sidelines of the nuclear talks in recent weeks. But he stressed that the negotiations with Iran remain focused on its nuclear program.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report. But if Israel really wasn’t informed about the letter to Khamenei, and learned of it only from the Wall Street Journal, that is liable to deepen the already severe lack of trust between Jerusalem and Washington on an issue –Iran – that is critical to their relationship.

Iran is negotiating with a six-nation group comprised of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. Israel’s fear is that the America and the other Western powers will soften their positions as the November 24 deadline approaches out of a desire to reach an agreement.

Friday morning, Strategic Affairs and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz will arrive in Paris for meetings with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in an effort to coordinate positions with Paris on the Iranian issue.

Over the past few weeks, Israeli officials have discerned a retreat in the West’s positions with regard to the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to keep under a final agreement. Iran, they say, hasn’t budged, but the West has gradually upped the number of centrifuges it would be willing to live with.

The report on Obama’s letter to Khamenei, his fourth since 2009, was published just days before a planned tripartite summit at which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s chief nuclear negotiator, Catherine Ashton, will strive for a breakthrough that would enable a permanent agreement on Iran’s nuclear program by the official deadline. The summit will take place on Sunday and Monday in Muscat, the capital of Oman.

Obama, who has made the effort to reach a nuclear deal with Iran a key aim of his second-term foreign policy, discussed the issue at a press conference on Wednesday. He said the United States and the other powers had offered Tehran a “framework” for a deal that would enable Iran “to meet their peaceful energy needs.”

“And if in fact what their leadership says, that they don’t want to develop a nuclear weapon, if that is in fact true, then they’ve got an avenue here to provide that assurance to the world community and in a progressive, step by step, verifiable way, allow them to get out from under sanctions so that they can reenter as full-fledged members of the international community,” he added.

Obama said he preferred a diplomatic agreement with Iran to all the alternatives, including the military option. Nevertheless, he insisted, he would prefer no deal at all to a bad deal.

He also said there was a serious question as to whether Iran would be capable of accepting the West’s offer for a nuclear deal.

November 7, 2014 | 24 Comments »

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24 Comments / 24 Comments

  1. @ Laura:

    We used to have so much fun I really miss you. Hang around here more than you have been. You know I love your comments and more and I’ll try to get ron back, I’ll email him.
    I mean it.

  2. @ Laura:

    Seems like everybody is funding Isis. Need a scorecard to see who is funding who and who is fighting who.

    There a lot of games going on and my gut tells me Isis is a diversion for something bigger, Like a 3 Card Monte shill game.

    How are you????

  3. Iran has been funding and arming Isis. It’s hard to believe any president can be this gullible, therefore Obama’s actions can only be explained by pure treachery.

  4. honeybee Said:

    “Cohen” of Silence…Couldn’t hear a thing!!!

    It could be useful as a ” marital aid”.

    I’ll send you mine for your next birthday.

  5. @ yamit82:
    I can repeat that report. Precisely…
    Nobody can mistake me for a snoop. I did not see me fitting the profile and opted out as well. Ended up taking the F-16 Program offer and later the F-15, etc.

  6. @ SHmuel HaLevi 2:

    One day my ex-wife clled to to say I had received a Telegram in an official State Of Israel Envelope.

    It said they were pleased to offer me an exiting and challenging opportunity Blah Blah and to come at an appointed time to an address on Carlebach st in Tel Aviv and to bring the telegram. . I went. The place was in an old building first floor with a steel door and outer intercom. They buzzed me in to an office consisting of 3 rooms and a reception space walls were totally bare desks were clean of any visible paperwork just plain desks a chair and a nondescript gentleman sitting there. I handed him my telegram he had a file with everything there was known about me from the day I was born…He outlined to cock and bull job offer and asked if i might be interested. I said I didn’t know I would have to think it over. Then he asked If my American passport was current.

    The whole interview I think was 20 min. I knew someone in the organization and I sought his advice. I turned them down flat eventually. It was obvious that they wanted the use of my American passport at least as much as myself.

  7. @ woolymammoth:
    I wanted to report to you precise facts and I had to make sure of the historic details.
    HEADS of the MOSAD for the last 20 years.
    Eprahim HaLevi: Peace camp operative in particular with Jordan. Confident to Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Netanyahu, (first tenure as PM)
    Danny Yatom: MAPAI far left operative.
    Meir Dagan: Installed by Sharon and he was Sharon’s associate of ways. This is the fellow I was present when he was introduced by Sharon. Dagan blocked all efforts against Iran. Even after he retired.
    Tamir Pardo: Present Mosad head. Formed under the above major calibers.

    The tilt is overwhelmingly in one direction, left or against all plans by true Zionism and in favor of MAPAM Zionism.

  8. @ woolymammoth:
    I do not have access to Mosad ranks or operations. And I prefer that to be that way.
    The MOSAD has been politically compromised for decades.
    The Heads and immediate sub alternates have been carefully selected to fit “the program”.
    The failures… in Iran mark the epoch of Sharon’s appointment of his recommended individual. I was at the ceremony when he presented the person to the LIKUD top CC people. He was replaced on retirement by a fellow that followed “the book”.
    Only few people can oversee a limited number of its activities.
    In some assignments they remain very good such as in strategic weapons transfers interdiction.
    Otherwise we fail consistently to be aware of special secret works that compromise our security.
    After I review the subjects I’ll give you some examples.

  9. “…compromised Mosad under a slumbering directorate…”

    RFI, SHmuel, could you please elaborate, how can this happen. How can this be allowed to happen.It is too late in the process to be asleep, is it not. Why is there no public outcry by gov’t ministers like Landau and Bennett.Please be specific. Toda Raba, WM

  10. That is no surprise. Neither is that the compromised Mosad under a slumbering directorate and even worse political ranks also missed the exchange.
    Everyone knows what is needed but we are too busy being asleep.