The Iranian Hokey Pokey Strategy continued to unfold today, as much-ballyhooed talks about its nuclear-weapons program ended up producing nothing more than an agreement to keep talking. Today’s “agreement” isn’t even that; the negotiations to keep talking won’t start until December. In fact, they haven’t even agreed to the venue for those lower-level talks:
But hey, the Iranians are cooperating, right? They’re pausing their work and allowing full access to inspectors? Er …
And the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was not part of the Vienna talks, said last week that Iranian authorities continue denying his agency access to a sensitive military complex suspected of being a site of nuclear activities.
Not that the talks were going anywhere even before today. As Adam Kredo noted yesterday at the Free Beacon, Iranian negotiators had been bragging about the abuse they were heaping on John Kerry and other Western negotiators:
“The gaps are big, the time is running out …” In reality, the gaps have always been big, and they will remain big as long as Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. They have played this strategy of using negotiations as stall tactics for more than a decade, after their nuclear-weapons program got exposed in 2003. The Iranians make a big show of holding talks and sometimes even reaching interim agreements, always to find some excuse or provocation to renege or pull out. They then dangle the possibility of talks in order to forestall tougher consequences for their intransigence. Barack Obama and John Kerry were foolish enough to buy this routine as sincere, throwing away the tougher sanctions that forced Iran to deal with West at all.
Time is running out, all right. The Iranians are making sure of that by running out the clock while they finalize their entry into the nuclear-armed state club. They just bought themselves seven more months of time to complete their efforts and deliver a fait accompli. The West is digging its own grave, and Iran is providing the shovels.
Update: And it looks like we’ll be giving Iran $700 million a month to stall, via Jeryl Bier on Twitter:
Iran’s nuclear talks with the six world powers will carry on till the end of June, officials taking part in negotiations have confirmed. The parties failed to reach a conclusion by the deadline of November 24.
An Iranian official confirmed Hammond's comments shortly afterwards.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that “considerable progress” had been made but there was no final agreement. Meanwhile, the Geneva agreement remains in place, he added, and he expressed expectations that the "basic principles" of a final agreement would be made within three or four months.
Hammond also commented that “significant progress” was achieved.
As of yet, the site of next month’s round of talks remains unknown. Meanwhile, Tehran will still have access to $700 million per month by way of sanctions relief.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that “during the talks in Vienna many gaps were narrowed and our positions with the other side got closer,” according to state television reports.
On Monday, prior to official announcements, a source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Iran and the world powers would be postponing talks and would continue them in mid-December, possibly in Oman.
"Some progress has been made," said a diplomat involved in the negotiations. "But we need to discuss some issues with our capitals. We will meet again before the New Year. This is an ongoing process."
Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Iran and the six world powers were “still far apart on many issues” concerning negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program.