National Security & Defense

Iran Deal: A Diplomatic Farce

A deadline passes with no agreement in sight.

The third deadline has expired. There is no agreed framework. While the negotiators in Lausanne are continuing to talk, their language is telling.

By yesterday there was supposed to be an agreed framework outlining the contours of a nuclear deal. Instead, negotiators said they would release a statement explaining which issues are agreed and which are not yet resolved.

The truth is clear: For all the hard work of American and European diplomats, this endeavor has failed. Why?

Because, as it has for over twelve years now, Iran is playing games. Ayatollah Khamenei has decided to roll the dice and pursue endless concessions. In doing so, he’s rolled out four obstacles to prevent a deal from taking shape.

First, as the New York Times notes, Iran is now intransigent about the future of its existing nuclear-fuel stockpiles. Before, Iran had agreed to ship its stockpiles to Russia to be transformed into fuel rods for its civilian nuclear-power program.

RELATED: Obama’s Iran Initiative

Second, Iran is demanding that advanced centrifuges — and future centrifuge research and development — be included in its post-deal nuclear portfolio. The West’s concern? Even if a deal restricted Iran to a lower number of centrifuges, Iran’s nuclear-weapon “breakout” time would be dramatically reduced if those centrifuges were of an advanced nature.

Third, Iran wants rapid sanctions relief the moment any deal is reached. This is an impossible concession for the P5+1. It would invite Iran to continue its enrichment or military programs covertly. Instead, to prevent Iran from cheating on any deal, Khamenei must understand that he has a personal responsibility to foster trust. So far, he’s disdainful of that very principle. Moreover, according to the BBC, Russia is now saying that while it would accept a rapid return of sanctions in the event of an Iranian breach of any deal, its U.N. veto power would have to be respected. This allows Russia to placate the U.S. and EU with tentative cooperation, but also allows Mr. Putin the option to veto any new sanctions.

#related#Fourth, the status of Iran’s heavy-water reactor at Arak appears to remain unresolved. While there had been signs of concession by Iran before March, Arak now looks to be another casualty of Khamenei’s hardening position. Without inspectors to monitor Arak, Iran would have an avenue to a plutonium-based nuclear weapon as a counterpart or alternative to a uranium-based weapon.

These aren’t just “a few outstanding issues.” Instead, they’re the core of any realistic deal. Without this core containment, any deal will invite political fallout across the Middle East.

But Iran believes it can win this diplomatic waltz. It’s determined not to blink first and to pressure the West, and it’s once again threatening the U.S. Navy in the Persian Gulf.

We’re entering the end game.

— Tom Rogan is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and holds the Tony Blankley chair at the Steamboat Institute.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

Most Popular

U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

No, Martin Luther King Was Not Pro-Riot

Among the more contemptible rhetorical tricks used this past weekend was the hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. to enlist him in the cause of rioting. Celebrities, activists, leading journalistic institutions, and even the Martin Luther King Jr. Center itself are participating in a misinformation campaign by ... Read More
Politics & Policy

No, Martin Luther King Was Not Pro-Riot

Among the more contemptible rhetorical tricks used this past weekend was the hijacking of Martin Luther King Jr. to enlist him in the cause of rioting. Celebrities, activists, leading journalistic institutions, and even the Martin Luther King Jr. Center itself are participating in a misinformation campaign by ... Read More