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Monday, May 19, 2014

What if there's no deal on Iran by July 20?

JPost reports that the P 5+1 negotiations are not going well, and with two months remaining to the self-imposed July 20 deadline for reaching a deal, there is not one word on paper.
“The goal wasn’t to agree on draft language per se,” a State Department official told the Post.
“It was to begin the drafting process.”
“As we know, this is the hardest part and will take time,” the official added.
At the beginning of negotiations in January, members of the US delegation acknowledged that the legal process of drafting, independent of the diplomacy required to reach agreement on core issues, could take months to complete.
The parties are attempting to forge a comprehensive agreement to a decades-long impasse with Iran over its nuclear work. Western governments, their allies and the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog detect possible military elements to the program.
One of Iran’s chief nuclear negotiators acknowledged the development. “We have not reached the point to start drafting the final agreement,” Abbas Araghchi said, after the fourth round of talks in Austria ended on a blue note on Friday.
An interim nuclear agreement reached last year in Geneva grants negotiators the ability to extend the talks up to six months from July 20.
Over the weekend, Iranian officials suggested missing the July deadline would not be a “tragedy;” but US officials fear an extension would politically complicate the talks.
Negotiations are scheduled to resume on June 16 in Vienna.
For those who haven't figured it out yet, the real time pressure on these negotiations is the US mid-term elections in November. Standing to lose both houses of Congress, the Obama administration is desperately in need of a foreign policy 'achievement.'
The two primary issues appear to be the number and quality of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to maintain and operate under a deal, and Iran’s retention of a high-powered, heavy-water plutonium reactor in Arak, which could provide the regime with a second path to a nuclear warhead.
“It is ridiculous that the power of the [Arak] reactor would be cut from 40 megawatts to 10 megawatts”, Araghchi said, according to IRNA news agency – an official Iranian outlet.
If operating optimally, Arak could produce about nine kg. of plutonium annually, enough for about two atom bombs, the US Institute for Science and International Security said.
Iran’s atomic energy organization chief said in February that Tehran was prepared to modify Arak, while insisting that Western concerns over Arak were a ploy to apply pressure o n Tehran .
Speaking anonymously, in order to keep the focus of talks on the diplomatic process, one US official warned against politicizing the moment when so few might be left.
“We believe there needs to be some additional realism,” the official said. “Time is not unlimited here.”
What could go wrong?

By the way, Monday is a travel day for me.... Heading back to Israel.

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