The United States and Iran have agreed for the first time to one-on-one negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, the New York Times reported, citing Obama administration officials.
to the report, the talks will take place some time after the November 6 US
presidential election, as Iran insists on knowing who the American
president will be at the time.
The Times reported
that the agreement was the culmination of years-long intense
back-channel communications between Iranian and US officials.
The White House declined to comment on the Times report when contacted by Reuters.
paper stated that while the announcement may enable US President Barack
Obama to make a case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough with
Iran, it may also allow the Iranians to buy time to continue their
In this respect, the Times
warned that there is still a chance that the initiative could fall
through, even in the event Obama is re-elected. Specifically, American
officials told the paper they were uncertain whether Iranian Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had signed off on the deal, although the
American understandings reportedly have been reached with senior Iranian
officials who report to him.
The United States and other Western powers have charged that Iran's nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists the program is for peaceful purposes. Israel has said it would use military force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has attacked Obama for failing to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions. The two candidates will meet on Monday in their final debate, which will focus on foreign policy.