A scoop by the New York Times today reporting an agreement to one-on-one negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran over that country’s nuclear program quickly lit up Twitter and international media, but National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor quickly issued a statement saying that “it’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections.”



The Times story had speculated that the news could boost President Obama’s standing at next week’s debate, which will center on foreign policy:

News of the agreement — a result of intense, secret exchanges between American and Iranian officials that date almost to the beginning of President Obama’s term — comes at a critical moment in the presidential contest, just two weeks before Election Day and the weekend before the final debate, which is to focus on national security and foreign policy.

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time.

New lead question at the debate? Not so fast.