Iran is refusing to commit to a written nuclear deal ahead of the March 31 deadline that American officials had touted for a general framework to be signed, the New York Times reports.
The Obama administration and Congress have clashed over bills to impose new sanctions on Iran or to require Senate ratification of any nuclear deal. However, the Iranians appear to have treated the March 31 date as merely an opportunity to drag talks out further–this time, until a deadline of July 1.
When the extension of talks was announced last year–the third new deadline in a process that was supposed to last no more than six months when first announced in late 2013–there were two deadlines reported. One was March 1, 2015, the deadline for a “political framework agreement.” The other was July 1, for “final agreement including annexes,” according to a CNN report at the time. However, the political framework agreement was always vaguely defined, and later extended.
The West has attempted to negotiate with Iran for years. Iran’s refusal to obey international norms and treaties to which it had already committed led to six UN Security Council resolutions banning all nuclear enrichment activity.
When he came to office, President Barack Obama treated prior negotiations as if they had never happened, and sought new talks with the regime. Israeli officials warned that Iran would simply use new talks to buy more time to develop its nuclear capabilities.
And thus it proved to be. Under the present negotiations–which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “historic mistake,” and the French government once called a “sucker’s deal”–Iran has bought time again and again.
The Obama administration played up the March deadline as if it would produce a written agreement, perhaps to buy time as Congress began questioning the emerging details of the likely deal.
Iran, however, has played Obama, once again, for a fool.