With just two weeks left until the June 30 “deadline” for the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran, a deal seems less and less likely to be finalized in short order, with interminable arguments over access to Iranian military sites with no link to their nuclear program making no real progress.
Exactly where Iran stands on this is unclear. At times they’ve said no access at all, and at other times have suggested limited access would be fine. The real issue though is that the P5+1 is split on the matter, with some members seemingly not caring at all, France demanding unconditional, unrestricted access to all sites forever, and the US desperately trying to split the difference.
Iran, then, is likely trying to avoid painting itself into a corner until it’s clear what the other side even wants, and is instead talking up the more realistic possibility that the deadline will once again be punted down the road in favor of a more attainable deadline. Negotiator Abbas Araqchi insisted a good deal was more important than a deadline, which is something the US will likely disagree with for another week and a half before agreeing to the extension, in an effort to appear to be playing hardball in the talks.
Secretary of State John Kerry did appear to make a concession today though, insisting Iran doesn’t have to come clean on previous nuclear weapons research, which US intelligence believes ended long ago, though in the absence of that the case for making them open up conventional weapons sites seems even less reasonable since all the previous access to those sites has turned up nothing.
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