Today’s the day. And guess what.

Why, the disillusionment is enough to break your heart:

[W]hen the two sides met in Brussels on Tuesday, they simply talked past each other, again dashing hopes that the incentives proposal would reinvigorate negotiations. Instead, the talks have stalled, ensuring that nothing will be accomplished before the summit meeting of leading industrial countries that opens this weekend in St. Petersburg, Russia.

“We’re still talking about the framework for talks, not at all about the substance,” one European official said…

That the two sides failed to bridge the gaps was painfully obvious in the terse public statements by Mr. Larijani and Mr. Solana. They did not characterize the talks as positive. There was no warmth between them. They took no questions. But they did pledge to stay in contact.

European officials were furious at Iran afterward, saying that their governments had been lured into talking to Iran while it was still enriching uranium and while action at the United Nations Security Council was on hold.

Uh huh. The deception being practiced by Iran here is about as sophisticated as one of those trails of candy leading to a box on a stick that Bugs used to leave for Elmer Fudd. Technically he was “lured” too, but when even a three-year-old can see it coming, the fury at having been duped falls a bit flat, shall we say.

More genius insight via WaPo:

The United States and some Security Council countries have now concluded that Iran has decided to test American resolve and the solidarity of Security Council cooperation, U.S. and European officials said.

And how does Condi react to the gauntlet being thrown down? From the Times:

Ms. Rice said that such a step would not rule out any chance at negotiations, and she suggested that there would be no quick push for sanctions or other punishments.

“If we go to the Security Council, we’ll take our time in terms of putting together the best response,’’ Ms. Rice said, according to The Associated Press.

This charade has now become sufficiently transparent that WaPo’s lead editorial this morning asserts, as bluntly as can be, that “Iran’s excuses are designed merely to buy time for its uranium enrichment program.”

Which of course is true. And has been true for years.

Prediction: When all’s said and done, Bush’s handling of Iran will weigh almost as heavily in his legacy as his handling of Iraq.

Update: Fox just broke in to say that the meeting of western foreign ministers and the French FM says they have no choice but to refer the matter to the Security Council. That’s the first step towards sanctions, although I’ll believe that when I see it.

Here’s Reuters on the announcement.