US President Barack Obama’s administration has been coming under fire in recent months for its insistence on negotiating a final-status nuclear deal with Iran amid fears that after more than a year of serious talks, it remains elusive.
However, Obama’s foreign policy has drawn support from some pretty high-profile quarters – for example, the foreign ministers of major European powers, who published an op-ed calling on the Western world to “give diplomacy with Iran a chance.” The piece, which was written by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK, as well as a high-ranking EU official, said that in light of the multiple “benefits” the West has reaped from the interim Geneva agreement, including improved access to Iranian nuclear sites, it shouldn’t despair of diplomacy just yet. The ministers added that Iran, too, must now “make a strategic choice between open-ended cooperation and further isolation” before the June 30 deadline is up.
Powerful words from powerful men who were party to the negotiation process – and who made the choice to extend it time and again. According to them, the June 2015 deadline will be the last; but who does that depend on? Western decision-makers, to whom much of the piece was addressed, or the Iranian leadership – which, according to a new IAEA report cited by Reuters, “still has not addressed specific issues that could feed suspicions it may have researched an atomic bomb”?
While support for continued talks poured in from some news outlets, such as The Atlantic (“Obama has a point: we have never been safer”), others – from The Wall Street Journal, which ran an op-ed by John Bolton calling Obama out for “holding a selfie stick” (rather than an ax) over Iran’s head, to Mosaic, which featured a lengthy analysis by Michael Doran asserting that perhaps Obama’s goal all along has been rapprochement with Iran at whatever cost – taking a far more critical tone. Doran’s piece even led Michael Koplow of International Policy Digest to ask whether the coveted nuclear deal was for Obama not the end, as it is for the aforementioned foreign ministers, but rather the means. We’re happy to see that the press is digging deeper on the nuke talks, clearly armed with more than a selfie stick – but why aim it only at the White House, when there’s plenty to be probed in Tehran?