Just before detonating the other “nuclear” matter that rocked the Senate earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vowed to move forward with a standalone bill on a new package of Iranian sanctions after the Thanksgiving recess. The White House and President Obama personally have been furiously lobbying key senators to hold off on implementing more sanctions; it sounds like they agreed to ride out the current continuation of ‘negotiations’ going down in Geneva this week, but bets are off after that. Via Roll Call:
“The Senate must be prepared to move forward with a new bipartisan Iran sanctions bill, when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving recess. And I am committed to do so,” Reid said to open the floor Thursday, before addressing why he has decided to invoke the “nuclear option” to eliminate filibusters of most nominees.
“A number of Senators have offered their own amendments on Iran in the defense authorization bill, and I know that other senators also have their own sanctions bills. I will support a bill that would broaden the scope of our current petroleum sanctions, place limitations on trade with strategic sectors of the Iranian economy that support its nuclear ambitions, as well as pursue those who divert goods to Iran.
“While I support the administration’s diplomatic effort, I believe we need to leave our legislative options open to act on a new, bipartisan sanctions bill in December, shortly after we return,” Reid said.
As much hullabaloo as there was over an emerging interim deal that reportedly came within a stone’s throw of approval (but fell through at the last moment, thanks to France) during the previous round of talks earlier in November, it doesn’t sound like things are going quite so very agreeably this time around, at least not yet. The Washington Post reports on the continued sniping from Iran about what they claim are the inconsistent terms the world’s power players are presenting to them (which I’m going to go ahead and guess is just code for Iran not immediately getting the squishy, easily reversible terms for which they’re lobbying):
Optimism for a nuclear deal with Iran seemed to wane Thursday, as diplomats from the Islamic republic and six major world powers struggled to find common ground on how to scale back Iran’s atomic energy program.
Diplomats sought to build on momentum from negotiations 10 days ago, when officials said they had come close to a preliminary agreement that would have halted the expansion of Iran’s nuclear facilities in exchange for modest relief from economic sanctions.
But the negotiators’ earlier confidence appeared to have faded, as diplomats traded barbs in television interviews and warned of significant gaps between the sides. Iran’s second-ranking official present at the talks said his delegation had “lost our trust” in its negotiating partners, because of changes in the terms of the proposed agreement offered by the so-called P5-plus-1 powers (the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia).
“We cannot enter serious talks until the trust is restored,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters during a pause between sessions. “That doesn’t mean that we will stop negotiations.”
France’s chief diplomat, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, also sounded a pessimistic note, telling France 2 television that any deal could “only be possible based on firmness” and hinting that Tehran had not yet met the test.
“Lost our trust”? …The heart. It bleeds.