News Commentary — Dec 9, 2013
“In 2003, Iran made an offer to the Bush administration that they would, in fact, do major things with respect to their [nuclear] program; they had 164 centrifuges. Nobody took that [deal] — nothing has happened.”
Speaking with ABC on November 24, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran approached the Bush administration with proposals for a nuclear deal back in 2003.
The Iranian approach came via the Swiss, who still had diplomatic representatives in Tehran, and it came in the form of a fax (see below) that detailed a roadmap for peaceful negotiations with Washington on Iran’s nuclear program.
A key player in drafting the document was said to be Mohammad Javad Zarif, then Iran’s U.N. ambassador and now the country’s foreign minister.
According to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran at the time, Tim Guldimann:
”I got the clear impression that there is a strong will of the regime to tackle the problem with the U.S. now and to try it with this initiative”.
So what happened?
According to the Washington Post, despite initial scepticism some mid-level State Department officials were nonetheless curious about Iran’s unorthodox approach, but then-Secretary of State Colin Powell never even forwarded the proposal to the White House.
Given his UN presentation on Iraq when he claimed: “there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons”, Colin Powell may not have been the best choice to lodge the proposal with. Indeed, after consulting with other members of the administration it’s possible that Powell may have been told to quietly do nothing.
For her part Condoleezza Rice, the then national security adviser, says she can’t remember ever seeing the fax.