The Obama Administration Will Never Walk Away from Iran

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

The Obama Administration Will Never Walk Away from the Negotiating Table with Iran

On Monday, the word was that the West’s negotiations with Iran weren’t going well:

The mood of the talks has gone from optimistic weeks ago, as Iran made concessions on items such as the future of its Arak nuclear reactor, to pessimistic in recent days as it becomes clear a giant gap remains on the crucial question of how much capacity Iran will retain to enrich uranium for what it insists is a peaceful nuclear program.

Yet as the deadline approached, President Obama and his team have decided things are going well enough to extend the deadline . . . 

President Obama said Wednesday that there had been “real progress in several areas” in negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, and he hinted that he might extend the talks beyond the deadline on Sunday in order to reach a final agreement.

“We have a credible way forward,” Mr. Obama told reporters during a short briefing at the White House, although he said there were some “significant gaps” between the two sides and more work to do before a deal could be struck.

“Over the next few days, we’ll continue consulting with Congress, and our team will continue discussions with Iran and our partners as we determine whether additional time is necessary to extend our negotiations,” Mr. Obama said.

If you’re always willing to extend the deadline, then it’s not really a deadline, now is it? On paper, we’re watching negotiations between two parties with diametrically opposed interests — we want the Iranians to have as little of a nuclear program as possible, they want one as big (and easily switched to military applications) as possible. But in practice, we’ve got two parties with the same interest: the Obama administration wants negotiations to continue, so they can claim their approach is working, and the Iranians want negotiations to continue so that their program keeps advancing and those centrifuges keep spinning. So both sides want the talks to go on indefinitely. At this point, we’re negotiating about the conditions for continuing negotiations.

What would it take for President Obama, John Kerry, and the rest of his administration to conclude, “These guys aren’t serious about a deal, they’re stalling for time, we’re playing into their hands by continuing these negotiations”?

It seems that as long as the Iranians don’t reach across the table and behead the other negotiators, this administration is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve gotten spam offers that seem more reliable than the Iranians’ promises.

This is not like negotiating with Don Corleone.

Eli Lake points out one more aspect of the negotiations where time is not on our side:

As U.S. and allied negotiators try to hammer out a nuclear deal with Iran this week in Vienna, they will have less economic leverage on their Iranian counterparts than they had a year ago.

That is the conclusion of a new study from Roubini Global Economics and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, two groups that have analyzed Iran’s economy — and the international sanctions imposed on the country’s banks, oil exports and leading regime figures.

Their report concludes that in the last year as the United States and other Western countries have begun to ease some of the sanctions on Iran as an inducement to negotiate an end to the country’s nuclear weapons program, the Iranian economy has begun to recover.

. . . the economic sanctions that President Obama has credited with forcing Iran to begin these negotiations have appeared to lose their bite, according to the study that is scheduled to be released Monday.

The lies of this administration will hurt all of us, but perhaps none are more damaging than the lies they tell themselves about how well their policies are working.