[USA Today reporter] Barbara Slavin is wrong. In a May 4, 2003, cover letter, Tim Guldimann writes that he developed the proposal in conversation with Sadegh Kharrazi. Other reporters recognized the red herrings involved in the Guldimann offer:
1. Most diplomatic correspondence is signed; Guldimann's memo was not.
2. Real diplomatic correspondence is on official letterhead; the Iranian offer was not.
3. Governments do not send proposals with which they disagree; at his 2003 meetings, Guldimann said the proposal had the "80 percent" acceptance of the Iranian government. He did not know with which portions they disagreed.
Nor can Slavin explain why Guldimann would pass an Iranian offer to undersecretary-level American officials when British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was an established go-between with the Iranian foreign minister on sensitive American issues. There was already direct dialogue between the United States and Iran above Guldimann's and Sadegh Kharrazi's level; indeed, American and Iranian officials had met in Geneva the day before Guldimann unveiled his proposal.
Slavin has been misled by her sources. Former Iranian UN ambassador Mohammad Javad Zarif represents the Islamic Republic's interests. He lied when he promised a month prior to the start of the Iraq war that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps would remain outside Iraq. And, when he sees the opportunity to use credulous journalists to pour fuel on the political fires, he does not hesitate.
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at AEI.