Progress on the diplomatic front with Iran could be seriously undermined at a moment’s notice by the US Congress, as imposing yet more sanctions in response to Iranian diplomatic overtures would be a clear sign the US isn’t there to make deals, but to make excuses.
Convincing Congress not to do that is a full time job for the Obama Administration lately, with the White House urging them to at the very least delay their plans for new sanctions for a little while to give the talks a chance to either grow or collapse on their own.
That’s not easy, as Congress imposes new sanctions on Iran every few weeks as a matter of course, and with Israel opposed to the negotiations AIPAC has been heavily lobbying Congress not to allow any delays, and to nip the diplomacy in the bud for Israel’s sake.
There are plenty of hawks who don’t need much convincing in Congress, and the Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are scheduled to push those sanctions next week. Whether they will spurn Obama’s call for time remains to be seen, but in a lobbying battle between the White House and AIPAC, it’s hard to imagine that the Israel lobby doesn’t have the edge.