President George H.W. Bush continued negotiations to improve US-Iranian relations. I was working for the CIA in Europe then when my American handler told me to consider the more moderate Rafsanjani, by then president, as the new king of Iran. This despite information I had passed on about Iran’s involvement in the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland – and despite the fact that Rafsanjani and other regime leaders were involved in worldwide terrorism and assassination. The elder Bush’s efforts at negotiation failed.
Then President Clinton attempted to persuade Iran to stop supporting terrorism and to normalize ties with the US. But he also failed to achieve results with Mohammad Khatami, the next Iranian president. President Khatami promised cooperation while secretly purchasing parts for Iran’s nuclear project.
Despite his harsh rhetoric, President George W. Bush, too, approached Iran. In 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice negotiated with Ali Larijani, then Iran’s top nuclear envoy. By the autumn, the Bush administration believed an agreement was set, expecting Mr. Larijani to appear at the UN to announce Iran’s suspension of uranium enrichment as America announced the removal of sanctions.
Secretary Rice showed up for the big event; Larijani never did.