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Debating US Options on Iran: Flynt Leverett Will Respond to Condoleezza Rice

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jane harman terror conf.jpg

In my capacity as head of foreign policy programs at the New America Foundation, I along with Trita Parsi, who is President of the National Iranian American Council, have produced a conference together that will take place in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Room, Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 628, on Wednesday next week, 14 February.

The conference will feature several important discussions that are key parts of the current US-Iran debate.

leverett.jpgFirst, former Bush administration National Security Council and CIA official Flynt Leverett and former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson will be sharing "more" on the question about the provenance of the March/April 2003 alleged Iranian negotiations proposal that was presented to the United States via Swiss diplomatic channels.

Recently, then National Security Advisor and present Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice disavowed direct knowledge of the proposal and claimed as reported in a recent Glenn Kessler authored article in the Washington Post that she had never seen the "fax" from the Iranians.

Flynt Leverett, in a conversation with this blogger before flying to Rome where he was meeting with former Swiss Ambassador to Iran Tim Guldimann, questioned whether Condoleezza Rice was attempting to purposely deceive the American public about the realities of the 2003 Iranian proposal.

Rice, in the Glenn Kessler article, dismissed Flynt Leverett's recent commentary about the proposal:

"First of all, I don't know what Flynt Leverett's talking about, quite frankly," she said. "Maybe I should ask him when he came to me and said, 'We have a proposal from Iran and we really ought to take it.' "

It is clear from earlier interviews with Rice that she was familiar with the content of the Iran proposal and seemed not to raise doubts about its provenance. If it is true that she never actually saw a proposal as important as this one would have been given the level of US strategic concern about Iran, this exchange raises serious questions about her management of the National Security Council -- particularly that Elliott Abrams may never have showed Rice the proposal, and alternatively -- that she never asked to see it.

Leverett has reported to this blogger that about 90% of what is available on the internet and in the press about the "content" of the Iran proposal is correct -- but there is another 10% that has not been disclosed and that is critical to understanding the seriousness and consequential nature of what Iran put forward.

Leverett will respond on Wednesday in this conference to Rice's comments -- and will share more about the content of the Iran proposal. Lawrence Wilkerson and Trita Parsi will also share bits of the story that they know from their particular vantage points in 2003.

cirincione pbs.jpgAlso being reviewed in this conference will be the "technical dimensions" of Iran's nuclear effort -- what we know, what we don't. We will have nuclear experts from the IAEA and from Italy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs here who have been trying to generate "third option" proposals in the US-Iran standoff. Joseph Cirincione of the Center for American Progress will manage that discussion.

Intelligence expert and US House Representative Jane Harman
will share her views on various policy options and scenarios facing policy makers regarding Iran, particularly given Iran's growing regional pretensions and disturbing senior level political pronouncements in Iran.

Harman was recently named Chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

fukuyama conf.jpgPublic intellectual par excellence Francis Fukuyama, who teaches at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and is the Executive Committee chair of The American Interest will share his perspective on how America should approach its policy options on Iran, most of which are various shades of "bleak."

Here is a recent oped by Fukuyama on this subject, "The Neocons Have Learned Nothing From Five Years of Catastrophe" -- and check out Fukuyama's blog.

Then we will have a general discussion regarding Iran's increasingly activist behavior amidst an already convulsive Middle East with perspectives ranging from "push back" to containment to engagement.

Should be very interesting. If you would like to attend, you can email me at Steve@TheWashingtonNote.com

There is no charge -- but don't RSVP if you are not sure that you will be able to make it.

Here is the conference info:

The New America Foundation/American Strategy Program &
The National Iranian American Council cordially invite you to a full day national policy forum on

U. S. -Iran Relations: Collision, Stand-Off, or Convergence?

Wednesday, 14 February 2007
628 Dirksen Senate Office Building, US Senate


9:30 am
Registration & Coffee

Welcoming Remarks

Steven Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation

Trita Parsi
President, National Iranian American Council

10:00 am - 10:30 am
Ruse or Opportunity?
The Provenance of Iran's spring 2003 negotiations offer

Flynt Leverett
Senior Fellow & Director, Geopolitics of Energy Initiative, New America Foundation and
Former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs, National Security Council

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson
Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of State

moderator
Trita Parsi
President, National Iranian American Council

10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Iran's Nuclear Challenge -- Debating the Technical Dimensions

Bruno Pellaud
Chairman, IAEA Experts Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Fuel Cycle
Former Deputy Director General and Head, IAEA Department of Safeguards

Maurizio Martellini
Secretary General for Landau Network-Centro Volta
Consultant on Non-Proliferation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

David Kay
Senior Fellow, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Former IAEA/UNSCOM Chief Nuclear Weapons Inspector in Iraq

moderator
Joseph Cirincione
Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy
Center for American Progress

12:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Luncheon
A Consideration of US Policy Options Toward Iran

Introduction
Steven Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation

Keynote Pre-Lunch Remarks
The Hon. Jane Harman
Chairperson, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
Committee on Homeland Security
US House of Representatives

Keynote Post-Lunch Remarks
Francis Fukuyama
Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy
School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

2:00 pm- 3:45 pm
Iran's Pretensions and a Turbulent Middle East

Thomas Donnelly
Resident Fellow, Defense & Security Studies
American Enterprise Institute

Daniel Levy
Senior Fellow, New America Foundation;
Former Advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Barak
Lead Israeli drafter of the Geneva Initiative

Dafna Linzer
National Security Correspondent
Washington Post

Trita Parsi
President, National Iranian American Council

moderator
Dr. Bahram Rajaee
National Iranian American Council

This will be a cool meeting -- and readers of Huffington Post are invited to be my guest. We will have box lunches and refreshments at the meeting -- as many as we can handle.

But we expect full house -- and perhaps standing room audience.

For those of you who watch C-Span, we will not know until Monday afternoon whether C-Span will be able to provide coverage.

Remember to RSVP to Steve@TheWashingtonNote.com

-- Steve Clemons is Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note