Yet another extended deadline for a nuclear accord between Iran and the P5+1 has come and gone, as the “intense” talks hit numerous (new and old) snags. After so many missed deadlines, this week’s headlines on the latest extension seemed almost comical, and some were openly tongue-in-cheek: “U.S. Suggests Open-Ended Iran Talks,” (WSJ), “Think the Iran nuclear talks are taking forever? Wait until Congress sees a deal” (The Guardian), and “Iran says makes new proposal in nuclear talks, West unimpressed” (Reuters) were just some of those we came across.
But what’s holding up the deal anyway, now that it’s apparently “within striking distance” and “closer than ever” to being sealed? Plenty, according to various reports – once again indicating that the parties still have a lot more left to iron out than mere technical details. From the sanctions on Iran’s ballistic program, which Tehran now demands be included in the accord, to the nature and extent of international inspections, to the fate of the non-nuclear arms embargo on Iran, to the extent of the advanced research and development Iran will be allowed to pursue under the deal – all these all-but-trivial matters, and more, remain to be resolved. (And it probably didn’t help matters that Iran deployed a new long-range radar just days before the deadline, either.)
…Which is, perhaps, why President Obama assessed a less than fifty percent chance of success, or why US Secretary of State John Kerry was somewhat blasé about the “marathon” talks this week, telling reporters in Vienna that they could “go either way” – either preventing an Iranian bomb, or leaving the parties empty-handed. And it also may be why CNN this week suggested calling in the big guns to break the stalemate – the residents of Abyaneh, a “conflict-resolution village” in central Iran, who are often called upon to resolve local disputes. Is this another reflection of the flimsiness of the talks and their sustainable value, or the media’s flippancy on the talks, or does it mean that at this point, the press has more faith in the octogenarian villagers of the Karkass Mountains than in the leaders of the P5+1 and Iran?