I think the story is true, a leak from the intelligence community that were thrown under the bus to cover up Libya. By leaking the talks, it threw a monkey wrench into the gambit to get deal done before the election.
Theory 1: The story is true, but the actors on both sides don’t want to jinx it by bringing it out in public until the plan ripens a bit, so they’re denying it for now. (Yeah, yeah… I know. But we’re trying to cover the full spectrum here.)
Theory 2: The story is garbage, but the New York Times was misled by an Iranian activist trying to kick-start the process.
Theory 3: The story is garbage, but the New York Times was misled by an Obama administration official who wanted to plant a seed to make it look like the President’s foreign policy platform isn’t a complete shambles right before the foreign policy debate.
Theory 4: The story is utter, complete, and journalistic libelous garbage created out of whole cloth by the New York Times in an effort to make the President look more effective on foreign policy.