Negotiators reconvened Sunday in Vienna in a final push toward a nuclear deal with Iran before a Tuesday deadline–the latest in a series of extensions aimed at keeping Iran at the negotiating table. As foreign ministers from the P5+1–the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany–joined their Iranian counterparts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Western powers had “collapsed” to nearly every single Iranian demand so far in the nuclear talks.
“[W]hat’s coming out of the nuclear talks in Vienna is not a breakthrough, it’s a breakdown,” Netanyahu said. He warned that the Western powers were about to sign a deal that put Iran on track to becoming a nuclear power, and that handed the regime billions of dollars to fund its terror operations around the globe, as well as its brutal war to defend the Assad regime in Syria. The emerging deal was worse than the North Korean agreement negotiated in the 1990s, Netanyahu concluded.
In recent days, the Obama administration has been forced to acknowledge that Iran failed to comply with some terms of the interim agreement under which talks are being conducted. The White House has also reportedly yielded on issues that it once said were core objective of any deal. It will allow Iran to forego, or limit, inspections of military sites and known nuclear research facilities. It will not insist that Iran report all of its previous nuclear violations–without which there will be no baseline to measure compliance with a new deal. And it will hand Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief up front.
The Obama administration has made clear that it is committed to a deal at any price. Deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently said: “We believe that the kiss of the nuke deal will turn the Iranian frog into a handsome prince.”
Little in Iran’s behavior justifies such fairy-tale thinking, which is why Netanyahu and even Arab leaders are sounding the alarm.