Shorter White House: We're so close to a deal with Iran, we can taste it

It was reportedly the French delegation that finally put a stop to the would-be sanctions/nuclear-drawdown deal between Iran and the world’s major power players in Geneva last week, convinced that they were all about to fall prey to a “con job” that would have let Iran off of the hook way too easily — much to the irritation of the Obama administration and the anger of the Iranians. Ahead of the fresh round of talks that will begin again next week, Israel is urging France to stay strong despite the international pressure that will certainly come raining down on them from all sides, via Reuters:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed France on Friday not to weaken in its stance toward Iran in upcoming talks on the Islamic state’s nuclear program, days before President Francois Hollande is due to visit Israel.

Iran has accused France of blocking agreement last week at talks between Tehran and six world powers in Geneva. Iran is seeking relief from international sanctions, while the six demand curbs in its nuclear activities, including enrichment of uranium. …

“We hope that France will not weaken,” Netanyahu told Le Figaro daily in an interview. “We salute (Hollande’s) consistent and determined position on the Iranian issue.”

The Obama administration, however, is still pushing hard for a speedy agreement. They spent this week trying to convince the hawks in the Senate to take a beat on pushing for more Iranian sanctions (while Israel’s ambassadors also stormed the Hill), preferring to keep the valve on low-pressure over their diplomatic atmosphere; and meanwhile, the White House has been teeing things up behind the scenes with the Iranians for next week’s talks, reports the NYT:

A senior Obama administration official said on Friday that a solution could be found for one of the major stumbling blocks to an agreement that would freeze Iran’s nuclear program, and that the accord might be achieved next week. …

But American officials appear to be seeking a solution in which Iran would be allowed to enrich uranium at the low level of 3.5 percent — used to fuel most civilian nuclear reactors — during an interim agreement and under a comprehensive accord. The condition would be that Iran accept a series of limitations, including stringent verification, on its nuclear program to ensure it does not further enrich the uranium to bomb-grade levels and use it to make a nuclear device. Iran now has stockpiles of uranium enriched to nearly 20 percent, which is used to fuel a specialty reactor but is also much closer to weapons-grade uranium. …

The official did not detail the potential compromise. But one solution, Western diplomats say, would be for an interim accord to affirm that Iran would be entitled to all of the rights of signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Iran and world powers would then agree to disagree on how to interpret that treaty.

And evidently, at least a few senators seem newly willing to give the White House the time they’re asking for to see what comes of it. Goody.

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