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Iran talks conference call: A lesson in how not to become famous in Washington

President Obama and other officials video conference with Secretary of State John Kerry on March 31. (The White House)
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The National Security Council put out a list of the people involved in a Tuesday video conference between the White House team and Secretary of State John Kerry and his team in Switzerland on the status of the Iran nukes negotiations.

The usual cast of characters was included: President Obama, Vice President Biden, Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz, White House Chief of Staff  Denis McDonough, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and so on.

The very last person listed was: “NSC Director for Iran, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh.”

Who? Well, she’s not very high-profile. In fact, there has been scant mention of her in the media in recent years. But it didn’t take long for conservative media outlets and Israeli press to notice that she once was at the National Iranian American Council, which those media have for years argued was a lobbying group for the Iranian government.

NIAC insists that it does not lobby on behalf of the regime but is a nonprofit trying to promote Iranian-American participation in American civic and political life.

“Just because we don’t want to bomb Iran doesn’t mean we’re in favor of the regime there,” NIAC President Trita Parsi told us. He noted that NIAC’s advisory board includes a former undersecretary of state, a former State Department official who was held hostage in the 1979 embassy takeover in Tehran, not to mention a couple former members of Congress.

In any event, we were told by the ubiquitous “senior administration official” that Nowrouzzadeh, whose parents came from Iran 44 years ago, worked for the government since 2005 at the Defense Department, then the State Department’s Iranian Affairs Office in the Near Eastern Affairs bureau. Nowrouzzadeh’s now detailed to the NSC.

She’s received awards from Defense, State, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI, we were told.

She interned at NIAC for about a year while she was in college, the official said, noting that there are multiple Iran directors at the NSC.

So there you have it. Sounds like the perfect sleeper agent. Recruited in college, inserted into the key agencies and now channeling Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif!

Go with it!