Another day, another deadline busted.
Officials attending nuclear policy talks in Vienna announced today that the deadline set by negotiators has been extended three days to July 10. This is the third time in a year that officials have blown past a deadline, but spokespeople from various parties blame this failure to agree on several “thorny” issues that appear to be hanging in the balance between total failure and…well, whatever level of “failure” will be represented by whatever terrible deal eventually emerges from this mess.
Via the Wall Street Journal:
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters the two sides weren’t formally extending the deadline but would effectively stop the clock on the talks.
“The news is, we are continuing the negotiations in these hours. You might see some ministers leaving in the next hours and then ready to come back in the coming hours and days,” said Ms. Mogherini, who chairs the six-power group.
“We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days. That does not mean we are extending our deadlines,” she said, adding that “we are interpreting” the July 7 end-date “in a flexible way.”
Ms. Mogherini said the negotiations have hit the most difficult and sensitive final issues, but that sealing a nuclear agreement “is still possible.”
It’s possible, but even the western negotiating parties have publicly differed with regards to both their concerns, and their approach to making their positions known:
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf signaled Tuesday that the U.S. team wasn’t going to be rushed into abandoning the negotiations.
“We’ve made substantial progress in every area, but this work is highly technical and high stakes for all of the countries involved. We’re frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock.”
Wary of creating fresh tensions, diplomats have been reticent to give details of where the remaining differences are.
However Mr. Fabius indicated France still has concerns in three areas: an effective sanctions snapback measure if Iran breaches the terms of a nuclear deal; real limits on the nuclear research work that Iran can do under a deal; and that Iran accounts for Tehran’s past nuclear activities—which may have been directed at directing nuclear weapons know-how.
The two sides still have differences over how extensive United Nations’ inspectors access will be to Iranian nuclear and military sites if a deal is signed.
At the top of the list of concerns for both parties is the UN arms embargo on Iran, but it’s certainly not the only provision that could serve as a deal breaker for belligerent Iranian officials.
State Department officials may claim little concern about “the clock,” but the political reality of the situation tells a different story entirely. Every missed deadline brings us closer to the possibility that whatever deal comes out of these talks will fall outside the Congressionally-allowed “expedited review” period. If the deal comes up for congressional review between July 10 and September 7, Congress will have 60 days (as opposed to 30 days) to review it, meaning that the Obama administration doubles its time in the spotlight and opens itself up to extended criticism.
On that note, maybe we should push for another busted deadline.DONATE
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