November 4, 2012
Sources in Tehran put out word Sunday, Nov, 4, that Iran had suddenly suspended 20-percent enrichment of uranium, stopping a short step from building a nuclear device. The sources were not official. However, an Iranian lawmaker on the majlis foreign affairs and national security committee, Mohammad Hossein Asfari, was quoted as saying that the move was a “goodwill” gesture, ahead of a new round of talks with the US scheduled to take place after the presidential elections in two days. He said if sanctions were not lifted in response for the “softening” in Iran’s position, enrichment would be resumed.
Other sources report that enrichment continued uninterrupted. Tehran is therefore poised to jump either way. DEBKAfile sources note that on Oct. 20, US media reported that President Barack Obama and Iran had agreed on one-on-one talks to resolve the nuclear issue directly after the elections if Obama was returned for a second term as president. The White House then denied those reports. However, two days before the election, Tehran is transparently throwing its weight behind Obama’s campaign by suggesting to the American voter that he is the best candidate to solve the nuclear crisis without resorting to the war option.
Obama’s staff has been building up to this critical moment, step by step. In late September, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report, they met secretly with Iranian emissaries and agreed that direct negotiations would be launched after the election. A team in the White House went to work on position papers for the talks. It is headed by Gary Samore, coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman who led the US delegation to the failed six-power negotiations with Iran.
This team was presented to Israel as the authors of an “endgame paper” that was to be put before Tehran as an ultimatum. But no such paper was ever shown to Jerusalem.