No. The Iran Deal Didn’t Just Collapse … but It Could.

In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010, and released by the International Iran Photo Agency, a worker stands at the entrance of the reactor of Bushehr nuclear power plant, outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran. Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday Nov. 23, 2010 that a malicious computer worm known as Stuxnet has not harmed the country's atomic program and accused the West of trying to sabotage it. Iran has earlier confirmed that Stuxnet infected several personal laptops belonging to employees at the Bushehr nuclear power plant but that plant systems were not affected. (AP Photo/IIPA,Ebrahim Norouzi)
National Journal
Sara Sorcher
Dec. 13, 2013, 11:43 a.m.

Ac­cus­ing the U.S. of vi­ol­at­ing “the spir­it” of last month’s in­ter­im deal, Ir­an stopped ne­go­ti­ations with world powers in Vi­enna over how to curb its nuc­le­ar pro­gram — just one day after Wash­ing­ton an­nounced new sanc­tions against com­pan­ies and in­di­vidu­als found sup­port­ing Tehran’s nuc­le­ar am­bi­tions.

Dip­lo­mats are down­play­ing Tehran’s de­cision to end the talks. Ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters, dip­lo­mats stressed the “in­con­clus­ive out­come” of the Vi­enna dis­cus­sions about how to im­ple­ment the deal, meant to cur­tail the most dan­ger­ous as­pects of Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram in ex­change for about $7 bil­lion in sanc­tions re­lief, and said this did not mean the deal was in “ser­i­ous trouble.” Dis­cus­sions, they say, are ex­pec­ted to re­sume soon.

However, the news, which comes as the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has launched a charm of­fens­ive to per­suade skep­tic­al mem­bers of Con­gress to give dip­lomacy a chance and avoid levy­ing new sanc­tions on Ir­an, does raise the pos­sib­il­ity of two sep­ar­ate out­comes:  

1) The Nov. 23 deal is fra­gile, and Ir­an is not a guar­an­teed play­er. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion wor­ries new sanc­tions from Con­gress would un­ravel the sens­it­ive nuc­le­ar ne­go­ti­ations, but to pre­vent mem­bers from tak­ing ac­tion, it must prove it can and will keep the eco­nom­ic pres­sure on Tehran. Thursday’s sanc­tions an­nounce­ment, just hours be­fore seni­or State and Treas­ury De­part­ment of­fi­cials test­i­fied on Cap­it­ol Hill — was a strong step in that dir­ec­tion.

That Tehran is hes­it­ant to con­cretely com­mit to more talks after the sanc­tions is a sign Ir­a­ni­an of­fi­cials may not be bluff­ing when they warn new sanc­tions would de­rail a deal. The nuc­le­ar deal was con­sidered a ma­jor dip­lo­mat­ic break­through and a sol­id chance to end the dec­ade­long nuc­le­ar dis­pute. So, after Fri­day’s spat, those mem­bers of Con­gress in­clined to give talks a chance may have more am­muni­tion to con­vince their col­leagues not to call Ir­an’s bluff.

2) However, that the Ir­a­ni­an del­eg­a­tion re­turned to Tehran after the U.S. simply demon­strated it would en­force its ex­ist­ing sanc­tions is not ne­ces­sar­ily an en­cour­aging sign that the coun­try — which is ob­vi­ously fa­mil­i­ar with the in­ter­na­tion­al vise around its eco­nomy — is ser­i­ous. 

There’s no chance Wash­ing­ton will lift all its sanc­tions at once, just as there’s vir­tu­ally no chance Ir­an will dis­mantle all of its nuc­le­ar pro­gram im­me­di­ately. Every­one knows some form of pres­sure must re­main for ne­go­ti­ations to con­tin­ue. If Ir­an breaks off — or ex­tens­ively pauses — nuc­le­ar talks now be­cause it is angry about sanc­tions that are already in force, im­pa­tient con­gres­sion­al hawks are vir­tu­ally cer­tain to move for­ward with new meas­ures to cripple Ir­an’s eco­nomy and test its re­solve. And in that case, very likely, the deal would be kaput. 

What We're Following See More »
‘DEMOCRATIC GENERATION’
Schumer: We’ll Take the Senate
21 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader in waiting, not only thinks his party will take the Senate this fall, but that it's on the cusp of an era of "electoral dominance." He told Politico: “We’re going to have a Democratic generation. [President Barack Obama] helped create it. But it’s just where America’s moving demographically, ideologically and in every way. We’ll have a mandate to get something done.”

Source:
TAPING IN NEW YORK TODAY
Biden to Guest on ‘Law and Order: SVU’
38 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"Vice President Joe Biden will appear in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that will mention the backlog of untested rape kits in many cities, as well as efforts to end violence against women—an issue close to Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act in 1994." He'll be in New York to tape the episode today.

Source:
PREEMPTIVE STRIKE?
Clinton Heading to the Rust Belt
59 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Clinton's first order of business after the Democratic convention is a bus trip through the electoral battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and Ohio, the opening move in a strategy to defend her party's grip on states President Barack Obama won and to brand her opponent as unfit to be president. It shows a campaign eager to close off a likely effort by Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, to build an Electoral College majority by winning working-class, white voters in the Rust Belt and other slowly diversifying states."

Source:
RUSSIANS AGAIN?
FBI Probing Hack at DCCC
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The FBI is investigating a cyber intrusion at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that may be related to an earlier hack at the Democratic National Committee." The intrusion "may have been intended to gather information about donors, rather than to steal money."

Source:
DO THEY NEED TO GET TO 15%?
Will Romney Endorse the Libertarian Ticket?
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson told CNN Thursday that Mitt Romney was considering endorsing him for president this fall." He said the two had recently spoken. Johnson's running mate, Bill Weld, agreed that they have a good chance of winning the endorsement, especially if they meet the 15% polling threshold for participating in the presidential debates.

Source:
×