A new report from the Wall Street Journal reveals that President Barack Obama secretly reached out to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei about working together to fight against Islamic State militants in the Middle East.
The complicated and potentially dangerous relationship between the U.S. and Iran was the topic of the Oct. 29 episode of For the Record, "Iranian Revelation."
In that episode, For the Record investigated reports of back-channel dealings between the U.S. and Iran, particularly surrounding the response to the threat posed by the Islamic State.
The Obama administration has publicly sought to keep Iran at arm's length, but experts told For the Record the relationship has been active behind the scenes.
"During the election campaign of 2008, [Obama] dispatched a private emissary, retired Ambassador Bill Miller to Tehran to talk to the Iranian leaders and tell them how great the relationship was going to become once Obama became president," said Michael Ledeen, a former State Department and National Security Council adviser during the Reagan administration. "So, he’s been after this since before he went to the White House."
The Wall Street Journal reported that Obama sent a letter to Khamenei in mid-October about their mutual interest in combatting the Islamic State, though said any cooperation would require Iran to reach a new agreement about its nuclear program before the current deal expires Nov. 24.
Negotiations on that nuclear agreement are set to resume Sunday in Oman.
"The bigger picture is even though we may be aligned on ISIL, we’re not aligned on anything else. We share no values, they still hate us, they still want a nuclear weapons program," Pete Hoekstra, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told For the Record. "If we align ourselves with them, our efforts to stop their nuclear weapons program, to contain them in the Middle East, we would lose the effectiveness to do that and we would lose all credibility in the region."
To learn more about the significance of that soon-to-expire nuclear deal and the reason many experts think working with Iran could prove dangerous, watch "Iranian Revelation" on demand.