The Iranian Hokey Pokey Strategy continued to unfold today, as much-ballyhooed talks about its nuclear-weapons program ended up producing nothing more than an agreement to keep talking. Today’s “agreement” isn’t even that; the negotiations to keep talking won’t start until December. In fact, they haven’t even agreed to the venue for those lower-level talks:
After yet another round of negotiations, international diplomats will leave Austria without a deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
But the parties will release a statement citing “good progress” from their talks in Vienna, a Western diplomat told CNN. The negotiations will reconvene at a lower level — below the level of foreign ministers — in the coming weeks.
Diplomatic teams will reconvene in December, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. But the location has yet to be determined.
But hey, the Iranians are cooperating, right? They’re pausing their work and allowing full access to inspectors? Er …
And the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was not part of the Vienna talks, said last week that Iranian authorities continue denying his agency access to a sensitive military complex suspected of being a site of nuclear activities.
So when does the P5+1 group expect to start talking with Iran again?
#BREAKING Iran nuclear talks likely to be extended to July 1, 2015: Western diplomat
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 24, 2014
Not that the talks were going anywhere even before today. As Adam Kredo noted yesterday at the Free Beacon, Iranian negotiators had been bragging about the abuse they were heaping on John Kerry and other Western negotiators:
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif—who is scheduled to hold one-on-one talks with Kerry this evening in Vienna—”frequently shouts at Western diplomats” in such a forceful manner that bodyguards have hurriedly entered the negotiation room on occasion worried that an incident might occur, according to one Iranian diplomat involved in negotiations who spoke anonymously with the Iranian press earlier this week.
On one occasion, Zarif’s shouts were so loud that a member of the Iranian delegation entered the negotiation room to check on the players, according to the report, which was independently translated for the Free Beacon.
Upon entering, the Iranian official was informed by European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton, a chief western negotiator, that Zarif was just shouting and she had gotten used to it, according to an independent translation of the report. …
Iranian diplomat Abbas Araghchi, another member of the negotiating team, is reportedto have said in an interview that during past negotiations in Geneva, Zarif “shouted” at Kerry and spoke to him in a way that was likely “unprecedented” in the history of U.S. diplomacy.
Araghchi went on to claim that he and Zarif play the roles of “good cop, bad cop,” according to the report, also in Farsi. The two often exchange these roles in a bid to “baffle the Western diplomats” and keep them uneasy, the report claims.
Even before today’s announcement, everyone knew where this was going:
“The gaps are big, the time is running out …” In reality, the gaps have always been big, and they will remain big as long as Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. They have played this strategy of using negotiations as stall tactics for more than a decade, after their nuclear-weapons program got exposed in 2003. The Iranians make a big show of holding talks and sometimes even reaching interim agreements, always to find some excuse or provocation to renege or pull out. They then dangle the possibility of talks in order to forestall tougher consequences for their intransigence. Barack Obama and John Kerry were foolish enough to buy this routine as sincere, throwing away the tougher sanctions that forced Iran to deal with West at all.
Time is running out, all right. The Iranians are making sure of that by running out the clock while they finalize their entry into the nuclear-armed state club. They just bought themselves seven more months of time to complete their efforts and deliver a fait accompli. The West is digging its own grave, and Iran is providing the shovels.
Update: And it looks like we’ll be giving Iran $700 million a month to stall, via Jeryl Bier on Twitter:
#BREAKING Iran to get $700 million in frozen assets per month: Britain
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) November 24, 2014
Tehran gets $4.2 billion to not show up for seven months? Hey, P5+1, I’m thinking about going nuclear …