Yesterday, the New York Times posted an article that claimed the U.S. and Iran had agreed to hold one-on-one talks over Iran’s nuclear program. The sources were allegedly Obama administration officials who work closely with issues concerning Iran. This would have been a major breakthrough for the Obama administration’s foreign policy…had it been true.
Apparently the officials claimed the talks would not happen until after the presidential election in November. However, the White House denies all of these statements, claiming that no arrangement has been made with Iran for a dialogue over the nuclear program. With different sources saying different things, are talks with Iran really on the table?
Probably not, since Iran has also denied such an agreement has been made between the two countries. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that there are discussions with several countries over the nuclear issue, but none with the United States. This leaves us wondering, though, how would the U.S. presidential election change if Iran really had agreed to a dialogue?
As soon as people began to read the NYT article, Iran was labeled the “October Surprise” for the 2012 election. Considering the presidential debate on foreign policy is happening tomorrow night, it would have given President Obama a major advantage going into the debate. He would have been able to reassure the American people that his foreign policy strategies are effective.
It also would have given Romney one less issue to challenge President Obama. Romney criticizes Obama for being “too soft on Iran,” even though the he has enacted heavy sanctions against the country. Had the reports been true, Obama could have claimed that his “soft” tactics were more effective than the tough policies of the past decade.
Thus, a story that could have changed the outcome of the election proved to be a false report. Is the New York Times going to be punished for this report? No, since they obtained the information from administration officials. Will the White House be held accountable for letting this information out? That can only be determined in tomorrow’s debate. Romney is sure to mention this “leak” in the debate, which means it will definitely be an interesting night.