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Report: Cheney rejected Iran's offer of concessions in 2003

By Tom Regancsmonitor.com / January 18, 2007



A package of concessions offered to the US by Iran in 2003 was very close to what the US is now asking from Tehran. The BBC reports that Iran offered, among other things, to end support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and to help stabilize Iraq following the US-led invasion. But a former US senior official told BBC's Newsnight program that the package was rejected by Vice President Dick Cheney's office.

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One of the then Secretary of State Colin Powell's top aides told the BBC the state department was keen on the plan – but was over-ruled.

"We thought it was a very propitious moment to do that," Lawrence Wilkerson told Newsnight. "But as soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the Vice-President's office, the old mantra of 'We don't talk to evil'... reasserted itself."

The BBC reports that in exchange for the above concessions, along with making its nuclear program more transparent, Iran wanted the US to "end its hostility, to end sanctions," as well as to disband an Iranian rebel group based in Iraq and repatriate its members.

The Washington Post reported in October of 2005 that Col. Wilkerson, who had been Mr. Powell's right-hand man at the State Department, made some serious charges against the Bush administration. Wilkerson, a 31-year military veteran and former director of the Marine Corps War College, has been described as "the man who would say what Colin Powell was thinking."

"What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and [the then-secretary of defense] Donald Rumsfeld," he said. By cutting out the bureaucracy that had to carry out those decisions, "we have courted disaster in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, and generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina." If there is a nuclear terrorist attack or a major pandemic, Wilkerson continued, "you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that'll take you back to the Declaration of Independence."

In a news analysis, ABC News reports that "provocative words by President Bush and a fresh American military buildup in the Persian Gulf seem to mark a new focus on Iran that could signal another Cold War or even a deadly confrontation." Last week President Bush set a tough tone with Iran when he basically dismissed the Iraq Study Group's recommendation of dialogue with Iran and Syria. The same day the US raided an Iranian consulate in northern Iraq and arrested six Iranian diplomats who the US military said were connected to a group that funds insurgents in Iraq. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice later said that "The United States is simply responding to Iranian activities that have been going on for a while now that threaten not just to destabilize the chance for Iraq to proceed to stability but also that endanger our forces."