Back when the United States and the other members of the P5+1 group (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China) embarked on their latest mission last year to strike a deal with Iran to prevent any nuclear proliferation on their part, there was a lot of criticism of the Obama administration for creating an opportunity for an only apparently willing and newly cooperative Iran to get exactly what it really wanted: Some relief from economic sanctions in exchange for doing nothing, and more time to stall on dismantling the threatening aspects of their nuclear program, even while Iranian envoys claim that they are sincerely hunting for a deal.

Mmm hmm. Via Reuters:

It is increasingly unlikely that six world powers and Iran will meet their July 20 deadline to negotiate a long-term deal for Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for an end to economic sanctions, diplomats and analysts say. …

The latest round of talks in Vienna last month ran into difficulties when it became clear that the number of enrichment centrifuges Iran wanted to maintain was well beyond what would be acceptable to the West. That disagreement, envoys said, can be measured in tens of thousands of centrifuges. …

Barring a surprise breakthrough in the next round in Vienna on June 16 to 20, Western officials said an extension was virtually a foregone conclusion. “We’re far apart,” one diplomat said, adding that the talks would be “long and complicated.” …

If there is an extension, the Obama administration will seek the blessing of Congress. U.S. officials voiced confidence to Reuters they would ultimately get it, but it appears it would not come without a fight.

Technically, the interim agreement from last November included a possible six-month extension if the two sides weren’t yet on the same page, and as Reuters mentions, the Obama administration has signaled that it will try to get approval from Congress before going forward with the negotiations and limited sanctions relief for another half a year. The White House managed to lobby a bipartisan majority in the Senate into submission last winter when it came to Iranian sanctions, but it might not be able to do so again without Congress heaping a lot of unwanted extra attention onto the issue.