Secret Iran, US talks paved way for breakthrough nuclear deal?

Reports emerge saying that the deal was preceded by a series of high-level talks between Iran and the US, a secret which was kept from Israel and also other negotiating allies.

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2013, 13:09 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: As a breakthrough nuclear deal was sealed between Iran and six world powers in Geneva after years of persistent diplomacy interspersed with periods of stalemate, reports emerged saying that the deal was preceded by a series of high-level talks between Iran and the US, a secret which was kept from Israel and also other negotiating allies.

The historic deal was sealed on the basis of those secret talks between Tehran and Washington, which were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a handful of people in the know, the Associated Press reported.

The talks were said to be authorised by the President Barack Obama himself, the report adds.

The deal which will see the curbing of Iran nuclear activities and in turn Tehran will earn sanctions` relief worth $7bn.

According to the deal, Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond 5%, and neutralise its stockpile of uranium enriched beyond this point besides giving inspectors access to its nuclear facilities.

The deal was hailed by the US with John Kerry telling ABC news that it will make the Mideast safer, the BBC cited.

However, Israel condemned the deal calling it a "historic mistake".

The Associated Press is said to have learnt about the first U.S.-Iranian talks in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting.

The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further.

As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.

The diplomatic gamble with Iran, if the interim agreement holds up and leads to a final pact preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, could avert years of threats of U.S. or Israeli military intervention. It could also prove a turning point in decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran -- and become a crowning foreign policy achievement of Obama`s presidency.

But if the deal collapses, or if Iran covertly races ahead with development of a nuclear weapon, Obama will face the consequences of failure, both at home and abroad. His gamble opens him to criticism that he has left Israel vulnerable to a country bent on its destruction and that he has made a deal with a state sponsor of terrorism.

With Agency Inputs