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Monday, November 24, 2014

US fears Iran to ramp up nuke production

With the P 5+1 talks on the verge of collapse and the US seeking an extension beyond today's deadline, the Wall Street Journal cites American fears that the talks' collapse will lead to Iran ramping up its nuclear production.
American officials have said in recent weeks that they believe Tehran could quickly ramp up its production of nuclear fuel, and potentially sabotage U.S. efforts to combat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, if the negotiating process ends.
The Journal also reports on American skepticism whether Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif is empowered to make any concessions to cut a deal.
Some senior Western diplomats involved in the Vienna talks also doubted Tehran would be willing to significantly change its position in the coming months.
“The [Iranian] negotiating team that is in Vienna—they are open, nice people, who are doing the best they can,” said the official. “The problem is that you have some who I’m not sure have the mandate to get to the place they need.”
Mr. Kerry held four hours of negotiations on Sunday with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, in a bid to push the diplomatic process forward, according to U.S. officials. The foreign ministers of the U.K., France, Russia, Germany, and Saudi Arabia also visited Vienna, and China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, is expected to arrive Monday morning. 
U.S., European and Iranian officials said they have made progress over the past year in negotiations that have crisscrossed the world from Oman to New York. But Obama administration officials increasingly are questioning whether Iran’s most powerful political player, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has empowered Mr. Zarif and other negotiators to make the necessary concessions for a deal. Mr. Zarif has repeatedly said he’s empowered to negotiate but that Mr. Khamenei is the ultimate decision maker.
That, of course, was utterly predictable.

Obama will ultimately face the choice of taking military action or allowing Iran to attain nuclear weapons status on his watch. I don't think he really cares any more. He has his Nobel Peace Prize and he's a lame duck facing two houses of Congress that won't pass his agenda but have very little power to force him to act on the foreign policy front.

What could go wrong?

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