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State Dep't Footage Fiasco Shows Desire Rewrite History to Fit US Narrative

© SputnikUS State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki - Sputnik International
On Wednesday, the State Department admitted that it had 'deliberately cut' a portion of a Fox News reporter's 2013 exchange with former State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki about the Iran deal. Commenting on the failed coverup, Iranian political commentator Hassan Beheshtipour suggested that it was an example of the US desire to rewrite history.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby admitted that an unidentified official made "a deliberate request" to delete the footage. 

"This wasn't a technical glitch, this was a deliberate step to excise the video," Kirby added.

US State Department building - Sputnik International
US State Dept Admits It Edited Briefing Video on Iran Nuclear Talks
Last month, a minor scandal broke out in Washington after a Fox News reporter discovered that a portion of his 2013 exchange with Ms. Psaki about the Iran nuclear deal had disappeared from its website.

In the deleted segment, the reporter pointedly asked whether it was State Department policy "to lie" in order to "preserv[e] the secrecy of secret negotiations." The journalist posed the question after receiving a tip that secret direct talks were underway between Washington and Tehran over Iran's nuclear program. Psaki's predecessor, Victoria Nuland, earlier denied that any one-on-one negotiations outside the international P5+1 group were taking place.

The Fox reporter's question, and Psaki's response, that "there are times where diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress," was curiously edited out of the 2013 clip on the State Department's website. Officials later blamed the disappearance on a 'glitch', adding that the clip had been restored in full.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrive to deliver a statement, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or Ecole Polytechnique Federale De Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, April 2, 2015 - Sputnik International
The Curious Case of the Missing State Dep't Video Conceding Iran Cover-Up
But on Wednesday, Kirby admitted that the clip was deliberately deleted, adding that it remains unclear who ordered the deletion. Commenting on the spokesman's remarks, Fox News, always critical of the Iran deal, predictably said that it was "a stunning admission."

For his part, Iranian journalist and commentator Hassan Beheshtipour, a frequent contributor to Iran's Press TV, told Sputnik Persian that there are several important details about this incident which the American press hasn't focused on.

Most importantly, he suggested, "the facts confirming the existence of confidential negotiations between the US and Iran, where Washington secretly promised to accept Tehran's terms on uranium enrichment, had been removed and hidden because the US wants the history of the deal to be written according to their vision and their positions, and not how it was in reality."

Another important element to the story, Beheshtipour noted, was the fact that negotiations began in 2011, under then Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, long before the apogee of US sanctions pressure against Tehran. 

In this sense, the journalist noted, "if the American side is trying to hide this fact today, it seems that it is thus trying to say that the Iranians only decided to sit down and negotiate when sanctions had reached their peak. But in fact this is absolutely not the case."

A general view shows a heavy water plant in Arak, 320 kms south of Tehran (File) - Sputnik International
Iran’s Heavy Water to Arrive in US in Coming Weeks - State Department
Furthermore, the journalist added, the State Department's clumsy attempts to manipulate the footage may have also constituted an attempt to hide the fact that the US had agreed to the Iranian side's demand that Tehran would be allowed to continue to enrich uranium, in limited quantities, for peaceful purposes. In this sense, he noted, negotiations began following a change in US policy, not as a result of Iran bowing to US sanctions pressure.

In any case, according to Beheshtipour, the embarrassing lapse, and the State Department's apparent failure to consider that the video would be made available elsewhere, including YouTube, has only served to damage US credibility.

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