iran talks likely extended the least bad option

According to Reuters and other sources, Iran and the rest of the world did not reach a nuclear deal by the Nov. 24 deadline. Instead, they will try again next month. (The new deadline is the end of June 2015.) Most likely, the extension will be worked out without giving Iran any new relief from sanctions as a condition for it to keep talking with the P+5 nations (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany).

With the extension, it will have been exactly a year since the interim deal, which was only supposed to last for six months, was announced. Iran was forced to negotiate because economic sanctions were hurting its economy so much. The interim deal, which eased many sanctions, has helped Iran’s economy recover a lot. After negotiators failed to reach a deal in July, the original deal was extended. This gave Iran more economic relief.
Also, Iran is widely thought to have broken the interim deal by taking advantage of the loosening of sanctions. People also think that Iran broke the interim agreement by building new uranium centrifuges. The Obama administration has made it clear that it wants peace at almost any cost, even if that means letting Iran keep most of the nuclear enrichment technology that the UN Security Council has already banned.

Critics of the deal, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the interim deal a “historic mistake” at the time, will be proven right if the deal is extended. (Israel doesn’t want Iran to be able to enrich uranium and has threatened to go to war to stop Iran’s nuclear programme.)

At the same time, an extension is probably better than a deal where the P+5 gives the Iranian regime quick concessions just to save face.

There have been a lot of rumours that President Barack Obama has been thinking about ways to get around Congress if a deal is signed. The Constitution says that the U.S. Senate must ratify foreign treaties, and strong opposition from both parties to giving Iran nuclear concessions means that any deal with Iran under the conditions being talked about, which include keeping the ability to enrich nuclear fuel, would be hard to pass.

With the talks going on longer, the newly-elected Republican Senate might be able to move forward with new sanctions bills that Democratic Party leaders had put off to give the administration more room. In a strange way, a tougher stance by Congress could increase the chances of a deal by showing Iran that Obama can’t make any more concessions. This would make Iran more likely to accept what is already on the table.

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