A former Iranian journalist who once had close ties to President Hassan Rouhani said top Obama administration officials are toeing such a conciliatory line at the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program that they appear to be speaking “on Iran’s behalf.”
“The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” said Amir Hossein Motaghi who according to Britain’s Telegraph requested political asylum in Switzerland after traveling there to cover the nuclear talks. The P5+1 refers collectively to the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
Others have also accused the administration of over-eagerness to secure a deal making steep compromises on the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program while not addressing its long-range missiles and international terrorism sponsorship.
The left-wing Israeli daily Haaretz ran this cartoon Saturday showing an eager John Kerry offering Iranian leaders a document to sign.
An Israeli official called the emerging agreement “incomprehensibly” bad and rejected the Obama administration’s claim that the deal would stop Iran from stocking enough fissile material to build a bomb in less than one year.
The unnamed official told the Times of Israel that the Jewish state opposed removing sanctions without first demanding Iran halt training and funding terrorist groups.
“The Iranians are not being required to reveal their secret military projects, their missile stocks are not being discussed, and nor is the terrorism they initiate,” the official told the Times of Israel. “Has anyone wondered why the Iranians need centrifuges at all?”
NBC’s Richard Engel said Friday on MSNBC that Saudi Arabia no longer trusts the U.S.
“[They] think this administration is working to befriend Iran to try and make a deal in Switzerland and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure,” Engel said, referring to Saudi-led military strikes against Iranian-backed militants in Yemen.
The State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State John Kerry had canceled his plans to travel back to the U.S. over the weekend in order to remain in Lausanne, Switzerland, for the talks leading up to Tuesday’s deadline for a framework agreement.
The Telegraph reported that Motaghi, the Iranian journalist who requested asylum, managed public relations for Rouhani’s election campaign in 2013 and more recently worked at the Iran Student Correspondents Association.
Speaking to a London-based Iranian opposition television channel, Motaghi criticized the pro-regime bias of his fellow Iranian reporters covering the talks.
“There are a number of people attending on the Iranian side at the negotiations who are said to be journalists reporting on the negotiations,” Motaghi told Irane Farda television, the Telegraph reported. “But they are not journalists and their main job is to make sure that all the news fed back to Iran goes through their channels."
“My conscience would not allow me to carry out my profession in this manner any more,” he added.
The Telegraph quoted an Iranian website that reported Motaghi had been tipped off he might be arrested upon returning to Iran.
Meanwhile, the Iran Student Correspondents Association, denied Motaghi was covering the talks for them.
“Amir Hossein Motaghi had terminated his contribution to ISCA and this news agency has not had any reporter at the nuclear talks, except for a photojournalist,” the association said in a statement.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the U.S. was considering allowing Iran to run hundreds of centrifuges at its once-secret Fordo nuclear facility, a fortified underground bunker, a compromise that elicited alarm from Israel and other neighboring Middle Eastern nations.