Are There Iranian Agents Inside the White House? // New revelations expose Iran’s influence campaign

“This initiative, which we call the ‘Iran Experts Initiative (IEI),’ consists of a core group of six to ten distinguished second-generation Iranians who have established affiliations with the leading international think tanks and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and the US.”
—Iranian diplomat and later Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh in an email to Mostafa Zahrani, head of the IPIS think tank in Tehran, about pro-Iran experts in the West who were in contact with Iranian officials
Have prominent members of think tanks in the United States and Europe been vetting their views and actions with the Iranian government, under the auspices of a group supported and encouraged by that government? And have some of those experts gone on to influence American policy on Iran and even infiltrated the US government?
Those are the questions being raised by recently revealed emails and documents from Iranian government officials, who crowed about their ability to influence the international discourse through their “friends.”
These communications were revealed in a joint report by the Semafor online news outlet and Iran International, a Persian-language news channel based in London. While some of the people and organizations discussed in these emails have disputed the way they were depicted, the Iranian take on them says otherwise.
Birth of the Iran Experts Initiative
The communications in question date back to 2014 and include emails between a number of members of Iran’s Foreign Ministry and Western academics. That includes missives to and from Mohammad Javad Zarif, who was then Iran’s foreign minister and a major figure in the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal with the P5+1, the UN Security Council’s five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, plus Germany. The emails show that Iran was interested in setting up a group of public figures who could present Iran’s case for a nuclear program to an international audience.
The Iran Experts Initiative was launched with a conference at the Palais Coburg Hotel in Vienna—the site of the nuclear negotiations—on May 14, 2014. Afterwards, Zarif, who was one of the attendees, repeatedly mentioned in emails that he would like to get the equivalent of Robert Einhorn for Iran. Einhorn was an Obama administration official who published widely and spoke about the American and P5+1 approach to the nuclear talks.


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