Nuclear talks were extended yet again into Thursday, as P5+1 refuse to walk away in spite of significant gaps and dangerous western concessions. On Tuesday the talks, which were supposed to produce a framework agreement by the end of March, missed the deadline and were extended into Wednesday.
In an interview with MSNBC, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean stated that President Obama should walk away from negotiations, agreeing with show host Joe Scarborough who argued that Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry “are far, far too eager for a deal with Iran, and could actually get a better deal if they walked away from the table and possibly came back later.” Dean revealed that he too was “worried about how these negotiations have gone.” Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) similarly asserted that “The best solution is walk away from the nuclear negotiations now and return to a position of strength." He also called for the reinstatement of sanctions that had been lifted during the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA).
Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, Professor Matt Kroenig, has argued that if negotiations fail to produce an agreement, the US should make it clear that Iran was responsible for the failure of diplomacy. Furthermore, he argues that Congress should re-impose sanctions, and the Obama administration should establish a more credible military threat. He writes that “if we have a credible military option on the table, Iran is unlikely to dash to a nuclear breakout capability that would necessitate the use of force.”
Some Obama administration officials have, in the past, implied that there is no alternative to a deal with Iran except war. However on Monday, founder and President of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, stated that it is a mistake to believe that the only alternative to a deal with Iran is war. He insisted that “There are alternatives to not having a deal and one of them as stated by very senior treasury official recently is that they would work with Congress to increase pressure on Iran.”
On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that a third extension of the JPOA “is an option that could be in place if negotiations do not succeed” by June 30. But bipartisan leaders in the Senate have indicated that if no framework understanding is agreed upon by the time they return from recess, they will introduce the Kirk-Menendez bill, which would increase economic pressure on Iran if there is no comprehensive deal by July 6. If a framework understanding is produced, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will introduce the Corker-Menendez bill, which calls for congressional review of any nuclear agreement with Iran. A recent Pew Research Center poll indicated that 62% of respondents believe Congress should have final authority for approving any nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today issued a sharply worded condemnation of the West's decision to continue nuclear talks with Iran, in light of the latest threat made by Iran against Israel.
The Times of Israel reported:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday excoriated world powers over their dogged pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran, pointing to recent statements by officials in Tehran — notably their calls to eliminate Israel — as evidence of the Islamic Republic’s unwillingness to compromise on its nuclear ambitions and campaign of “terror, subjugation and conquest.”
In tones of moral outrage, he issued a brief, infuriated statement to camera, protesting that the talks were continuing in Lausanne even as Iran reiterated its insistent goal of destroying the Jewish state.