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
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
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 »
BIGGEST SHAKEUP OF ALL?
Bannon Is Out at the White House
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."

Source:
INITIATIVE TARGETED GUN RETAILERS, OTHERS
Trump Ends Obama’s “Operation Choke Point”
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."

Source:
LIBERALS RAISE CONFLICT OF ISSUE QUESTIONS
Gorsuch to Deliver Speech at Trump Hotel
11 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."

Source:
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
1 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
1 days ago
WHY WE CARE
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login