Purported Iranian letter of 2003 proposing cooperation with USA
April (?) 2003
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The following purports to summarize the contents of a letter sent by the Iranian government to the United States government in 2003, proposing broad concessions to the United States, including cessation of terror and adoption of the Arab peace initiative, in return for a softening of the US attitude to Iran. The letter was sent via the Swiss government, which represents US interests in Iran.
News reports have mentioned the existence of such a letter, or perhaps two different letters, which were part of a broad Iranian peace initiative that apparently had the blessing of the highest ranks of the Iranian government, in the spring of 2003. A Financial Times article of July 15, 2003 by Guy Dinmore (Entire source is here: Iranian peace overtures in 2003 ) claimed:
Iran has communicated to the US its readiness to open direct talks about its nuclear programme as a first step towards tackling other issues, such as terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but US officials say the Bush administration is keeping the door closed.
Tehran's overtures have been conducted mainly through Mohammad Javad Zarif, its ambassador to the United Nations in New York, in discussions with Americans in close contact with the Bush administration, including at least one former senior official.
That Iran's leadership was ready to open a dialogue with the US was also conveyed by Tim Guldimann, the Swiss ambassador to Tehran, in a recent visit to Washington. Switzerland represents US interests in Iran.
But although the US is seeking a dialogue with North Korea, a member of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil", and is engaged in talks with other "rogue states", such as Libya and Syria, US officials say there is little appetite for negotiations with Iran.
"We are not reaching out at this point," said a State Department official, adding that the matter was still under review.
Within the Bush administration some officials advocate "regime change" as its Iran policy, while a minority proposes engagement. But the prevailing view is that the US has been effective in working with the European Union and Japan to put economic pressure on Iran.
The existence of such a letter was also claimed by Flynt Leverett in a New York Times article of January 24, 2006. He wrote:
In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran's power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration's response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.
( source - http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/fleverett/20060124.htm )
He referred to the letter again in an interview dated March 31, 2006. He believes the letter, sent in late April or in May of 2003, was prompted by the start of the US invasion of Iraq, which made the Iranian government of reformist former President Khatami believe that it had to come to terms with the USA. According to Leverett, the US government refused to consider the letter and reprimanded the Swiss for passing it on.
Leverett referred to this letter as a one page document. Elsewhere, (http://www.antiwar.com/orig/porter.php?articleid=9040) it is alleged to be a two page document by Gareth Porter. It is thought that there were at least two separate documents, one of which was hand carried by an unnamed American intermediary.
According to Porter, the significance of the document is that:
The two-page document contradicts the official line of the George W. Bush administration that Iran is committed to the destruction of Israel and the sponsorship of terrorism in the region.
According to a Newsday story of February 19, 2006 the letter was initiated by Sadegh Kharazi, Iran's ambassador to France and nephew of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi and passed on by the Swiss ambassador to Tehran. It is not clear that Kharazi had the blessing of the Iranian government. It is assumed that the document reflect Iranian reaction to the US invasion of Iraq, which was then in the first flushes of success.
Owing to the nature of this document, we are including a facsimile of original that is circulating, below the text version. It bears no marks that could indicate provenance or authenticity. It is not clear who added bold emphasis to certain passages in the document. It is very likely an annex to the formal cover letter that was sent. We have been assured by two sources that this document is authentic, and that it is the one discussed by Gareth Porter.
If the letter is authentic, then its rejection by the United States sheds new light on the Iranian nuclear development crisis.
Further commentary and sources regarding Iranian peace overtures in 2003:
Iranian peace overtures in 2003
Did Iran make a peace offer to the United States in 2003?
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Summary of letter purportedly sent by Iran to the US government in the spring of 2003
US aims: (Iran accepts a dialogue "in mutual respect" and agrees that the US puts the following
aims on the agenda)
Communication of mutual agreement on the following procedure
a. of a decision on the first mutual steps
b. of the establishment of the parallel working groups on disarmament, regional security and economic cooperation. Their aim is an agreement on three parallel road maps, for the discussions of these working groups, each side accepts that the other side's aims (see above) are put on the agenda:
1) Disarmament: road map, which combines the mutual aims of, on the one side, full transparency by international commitments and guarantees to abstain from WMD with, on the other side, full access to western technology (in the three areas),
2) Terrorism and regional security: road map for above mentioned aims on the Middle east and terrorism
3) Economic cooperation: road map for the abolishment of the sanctions, rescinding of judgments, and un-freezing of assets
c. of agreement on a time-table for implementation
and of a public statement after this first meeting on the achieved agreements
Graphic facsimile of the document
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