Iran Talks Likely Extended; The Least-bad Option

Iran Talks Likely Extended; The Least-bad Option

The nuclear talks between Iran and the international community have failed to reach a deal by the Nov. 24 deadline, and will reconvene next month, according to Reuters and other sources. (Update: The new deadline is the end of June 2015.) The extension will likely be negotiated without offering Iran any new sanctions relief as a condition for its continued participation in talks with the P+5 nations (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany). 

The extension will mean that exactly a year has passed since the interim deal was announced, which was only supposed to last for six months. Iran had been forced to the negotiating table by crippling economic sanctions, but the interim deal, which relaxed many sanctions, has allowed its economy to recover significantly. The initial deal was extended after negotiators failed to reach agreement in July, thus allowing Iran more economic relief. 

In addition, Iran is widely suspected to have cheated on the interim deal by benefited from relaxed sanctions Iran is also widely thought to have cheated on the interim deal by building new uranium centrifuges. The Obama administration has indicated clearly that it is seeking peace at virtually any price, including allowing Iran to retain much of the nuclear enrichment technology already banned by UN Security Council resolutions.

The extension of the deal will vindicate critics, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the interim deal a “historic mistake” at the time. (Israel is opposed to Iran retaining any nuclear enrichment capacity, and has threatened war to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.) 

At the same time, an extension is likely better than a deal in which the P+5 makes hasty concessions to the Iranian regime merely to save face.

It is widely reported that President Barack Obama has been considering ways to circumvent Congress in the event that a deal is actually signed. The Constitution requires the U.S. Senate to ratify foreign treaties, and the strong bipartisan opposition to nuclear concessions to Iran means that any deal with Iran under the conditions currently being discussed, which include retaining nuclear enrichment capacity, would be difficult to approve.

The extension of the talks may allow the newly-elected Republican Senate to move forward new sanctions bills that had been delayed by Democratic Party leaders in order to allow the administration more room. Ironically, a tougher stand by Congress could increase the chances of a deal by showing Iran that Obama cannot offer further concessions, and encouraging them to take what is on the table. 

Iran, however, may not want any deal after all.

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak