Down to the Wire on a Deal or No Deal at All?

Down to the Wire on a Deal or No Deal at All?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

By the stroke of midnight on March 31 in Lausanne, Switzerland, one of three things will have transpired in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5 + 1. None of the three are constructive or positive but one of them is the worst.

Scenario I: The U.S. and its allies agree to an indefensible, not sufficiently verifiable set of Iranian demands, declare victory and return home. This result might satisfy Washington temporarily but it would drive Congress into probably not agreeing to lift sanctions. In addition it would place increased conditions on the arrangement requiring additional negotiations; and would make the Israelis and the Saudis skeptical, resistant, and potentially aggressive.

Scenario II: Iran finds the arrangements too onerous and walks away from the table chastising the U.N. Security Council members for having wasted Iran’s time. The other side would be angry; the Obama Administration would be frustrated by this fools rush; and the Israelis and the Saudis would be anxious as to what happens next.

Scenario III: The most likely result will be that a statement will be issued that significant progress has been made–details are being withheld. The parties now will proceed to the drafting of the final accords to be ready by the end of June. In essence this would give all parties time to continue the negotiation process through that date; in other words a stall. All parties presumably will be pleased that they did not yet lose, although no one yet won either.

At the end of the day the U.N. group is hoping that the length of a verifiable inspection program will help forestall any nefarious intention; that it will end someday with a regime change in Iran that will produce a much more reasonable, less aggressive Government. An incredible amount of time, energy, and diplomatic capital spent to produce nothing. Meanwhile, regional instability persists. 

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