- - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ever since President Obama took office, the idea of a grand bargain with Iran has occupied his mind, and still today he believes the Islamic regime will be kind to him and negotiate. He is woefully mistaken.

Mr. Obama’s grand bargain, reinforced by his inner circle, calls for Iran to give up the idea of a nuclear bomb while continuing to pursue its peaceful nuclear program, help resolve the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and reconsider its terrorist activities worldwide.

Every recent U.S. administration had tried in vain to negotiate with the radicals in Iran. Mr. Obama remains blind to the fact that any negotiations or sanctions will fail because the Islamist regime is ideologically committed to the expansion of its ideals.

Last February, the Obama administration and the leaders of the Islamic regime held secret negotiations over an agreement that would pressure Israel not to attack Iran, avoid harming the fragile U.S. economy and help boost Mr. Obama’s re-election chances. The agreement called for recognition of Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear enrichment and that its nuclear program would have no military applications.

Mr. Obama requested collaboration with Iran through three channels: a letter to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; a message to the Iranian U.N. delegate; and a message through Swiss Ambassador Livia Leu Agosti in Tehran in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Ministry officials.

After the February talks, the U.S. took two steps in accord with the agreement. First, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, announced that Iran is a “rational actor” and that it is not after a nuclear bomb. Then, just as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to arrive in Washington for talks with Mr. Obama about Iran, a consensus of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies was made public: Iran had stopped efforts to build a bomb.

For his part, Ayatollah Khamenei announced that Iran had never sought and would never seek nuclear weapons, as it regards their possession a great sin.

The meetings between the Islamic regime and the Obama administration continued, with several held in Washington with the regime’s surrogates, which resulted in a secret meeting in Doha, Qatar, between Iranian and U.S. officials.

According to a source in Iran, a three-person delegation on behalf of the Obama administration traveled to Qatar about Oct. 1 and met with Iranian counterparts, including Ali Akbar Velayati, the former foreign minister and a close adviser to Ayatollah Khamenei on international matters, and Asghar Hejazi, the head of the intelligence and security divisions in Ayatollah Khamenei’s office.

In that meeting, the U.S. delegation urged an announcement, even if only on a temporary nuclear deal, before the U.S. elections in order to help Mr. Obama get re-elected. A Romney presidency, the delegation said, would favor Israel, while Mr. Obama has stood up to Israel against attacking Iran. The regime’s delegate was urged to understand that if Iran does not stand by Mr. Obama, Israel will attack.

Mr. Velayati informed the Americans that Ayatollah Khamenei needed Mr. Obama’s written agreement ensuring the guarantees discussed and only then would he authorize an announcement by Iranian officials on a breakthrough.

The guarantees would ensure the regime’s right to peaceful enrichment, quickly remove many of the sanctions, accept the position that Iran’s nuclear program does not have a military dimension, and relieve international pressure on the regime while it continues its nuclear program. Also, America would announce that the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists was the work of a foreign country, though Israel would not be named, in order to increase legal pressure on Israel.

Immediately after the Doha meeting, there was a lot of positive energy from Tehran and Washington. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced that Iran was now ready to talk and even halt parts of its enrichment if guarantees were given. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an interview in Kazakhstan, said sanctions could be lifted immediately if Tehran worked with the world powers to address questions about its nuclear program.

The New York Times reported last week that as a result of these intense secret negotiations, Iran for the first time had agreed to a one-on-one meeting with the United States to negotiate over its nuclear program, which the White House immediately denied. In an effort to control the damage brought on by the revelation of the secret meeting, the White House gave the impression that Mr. Obama’s policies were working and that the Islamic regime was ready to negotiate.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 23, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Mr. Obama is open to having bilateral talks with Iran about its nuclear program, but the United States has not scheduled any negotiations.

Then the following day, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency, Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Muhammad al Thani denied that a secret meeting between Iranian and American officials had taken place in his country. He was reacting to reports by Al Arabiya news agency that a secret meeting indeed had occurred in Qatar.

Mr. Obama must not put his political career ahead of the global economy and world peace. No political gains will justify emboldening a regime that not only rapes, tortures and kills its own citizens, but is also at the helm of worldwide terrorism.

After four years of the Obama administration, Iran is much closer to obtaining the bomb and has achieved the know-how to become nuclear-armed.

With international sanctions putting the Iranian economy into a free fall and riots breaking out, a better strategy would be to tighten the screws with even harsher sanctions and to side with the Iranian people when they rise up against their government. A majority of Iranians detest the brutal mullah-driven regime and yearn for freedom. We must not let them down. World peace depends on it.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

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