In the past, Iranian nuclear talks have had to be extended repeatedly, as the early deadlines were woefully over-optimistic about the speed with which a complicated deal’s terms could be finalized. Those extensions were 3-6 months, which is what was expected this time around when today’s deadline was reached.
Instead, the talks were simply extended a week, to July 7, which lends weight to reports in recent days that a major breakthrough on the talks is in fact close. While it doesn’t necessarily mean July 7 is a firmer deadline, that they moved the bar out so little suggests something significant is close.
Western officials are also confirming, once again, that Iran has met the terms of another interim agreement, this time related to the size of its low-enriched uranium stockpile. The formal IAEA report to that effect is expected in the coming days.
At the same time, the Obama Administration sought to reassure hawks who oppose the nuclear deal in the wake of the latest extension, declaring that the US could “walk away” from the talks at any time if it wanted to, and would do so if Iran doesn’t give them what they want.
Such threats are almost certainly idle, but the US has been keen, whenever a deadline is close, to start trying to play hard ball, even as it becomes increasingly apparent they’re going to have to add to the timeline.