The latest release from Wikileaks shows a US diplomatic assessment of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 that concluded the Iranian president sincerely wanted a nuclear fuel swap deal with the West, but that his hardliner bosses in the mullahcracy considered it a “virtual defeat” and scotched the deal. CBS also reports from the leaked assessment that the US believes Iran trusts the Great Satan more than its trading partner in Russia to adhere to the terms of any deal reached:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought some kind of nuclear fuel swap deal more than a year ago, but faced internal pressures from hard-liners who viewed it as a “virtual defeat,” according to U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.
The report, available on the WikiLeaks website Tuesday, also suggested Iran trusted its arch-foe the United States more than ally Russia to follow through with the U.N.-backed proposal: providing reactor-ready fuel in exchange for Iran giving up control of its low-enriched uranium stockpile.
The assessment was given to a top U.S. envoy by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose nation has a growing friendship with Tehran and is scheduled to host the next round of nuclear talks later this month between Iran and six world powers, including the United States.
Er, sure. The Davutoglu assessment is also rather self-serving. Turkey has grown closer to Iran over the last couple of years, and wants to play a central role in defusing the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. That only works if Turkey can convince the US that the Iranians can act as sincere negotiating partners with the right mediator, and that Ahmadinejad is the right contact for the US to court through the Turks. Even in that sense, though, this analysis shows how silly that is; Ahmadinejad doesn’t have plenipotentiary power in negotiations. The issue remains, as it always has, in the hands of the radical Islamist mullahs that run Iran.
As for Iran trusting the US more than Russia, that’s either flat-out disinformation or irrelevant spin. Iran does a lot of business with Russia, and that wouldn’t happen without some level of mutual trust. Moreover, Russia helped build the Bushehr nuclear power plant. In contrast, Iran not only routinely rails against the US as the “Great Satan” and our alliance with Israel, they actively support groups attacking American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran wants to see an end to the US; trust isn’t an issue.
Nothing in the cable suggests that the Obama administration believed this nonsense, which is a good sign. It also shows the US envoy challenged Davutoglu to consider the negative consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran as well as the negative consequences of harsher sanctions, which Turkey opposes. The cable itself is another example of why most of the data that the US and other countries classify don’t really need to be exposed and serve no real useful purpose other than to embarrass the US and its allies and make conversations like these, as insubstantial as they might be, much more difficult to conduct in the future.