Report: French, German FMs say they're leaving Iran talks in the morning as U.S. vows to extend into Wednesday

Two possibilities here. One: The U.S. is playing a game of good cop/bad cop with France and Germany in the latter role. If the French and Germans threaten to observe the March 31st deadline for a nuke deal and walk away if nothing gets done tonight, Iran might rethink its last-second refusal to send its enriched uranium outside the country for storage. Maybe the White House figures that that sort of brinksmanship is better off coming from the Europeans than the U.S. If the Great Satan threatens to pull the plug, Iran may decide it has no choice but to call our bluff by walking away too, if only to save face at home. If the Europeans do it, with the U.S. in the role of mediator between the two sides, maybe they think differently.

That’s option one. Option two: We really have reached the point where France and Germany are more willing to walk away from a crappy deal than the United States is. Kerry’s going to stick around and make sure this sh*t sandwich gets made and eaten, whether or not his pals from the EU have lots their appetites.

Which do you suppose it is?

We’ll find out soon if Fabius and Steinmeier are serious. According to the White House, morning will come without a deal.

Steinmeier sounded pretty rosy about the talks earlier today, which means either that something changed later in the afternoon or he’s already wavering about leaving in the morning. Maybe Iran added yet another last-minute demand designed to complicate the process for the west? All part of their strategy:

On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi was quoted in the Iranian press that “the export of stocks of enriched uranium is not in our program, and we do not intend to send them abroad … There is no question of sending the stocks abroad.” His statements have since been echoed by other Iranian representatives.

If this reversal sticks, it could wreck the hard-fought blueprint for a deal. The ship-out provision represents a key component of the formula for prolonging Iran’s distance from nuclear weapons capability. More disturbingly, the late-stage shift echoes a persistent Iranian tactic throughout these difficult and protracted talks that should accentuate misgivings about its leadership’s intentions.

Each time the two sides appeared to resolve one small element of the enrichment impasse, the Iranian negotiators would promptly reopen another aspect that previously appeared to have been resolved.

When you know that the guy in charge on the other side of the table isn’t going to walk away, no matter what, why not pile on the demands at the last minute? You’ll probably get an extra concession or two out of it. Worst-case scenario, Kerry refuses to agree to anything and Iran accepts the terms of the deal as of a few days ago, making it seem as though they’ve given up a lot simply to secure terms that were acceptable to them before they started making their last-minute demands.

A deal’s gotta happen. After all, via the Examiner, there are more important things at stake here than whether Iran gets the bomb or the fate of the Middle East.

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