Talks with Iran regarding the country’s nuclear program were scheduled to come to a close yesterday, but to the surprise of nobody, the deadline has been extended. According to President Obama, the negotiations are not going as well as expected, with Iran remaining obstinate on several key issues. If the trend continues, Obama warned, he might “walk away” from a deal entirely.
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Obama appeared at a joint press conference yesterday with visiting Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and representatives of the State Department. The deadline has been pushed forward a week, the State Department acknowledged, and Obama followed with an optimistic thought: “My hope is that they can achieve an agreement,” he said.
The president pointed to the dispute surrounding inspections of nuclear sites as one of the main barriers to forging an amenable deal. “I’ve said from the start, I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal,” Obama said, and if the framework does not involve adequate concessions on Iran’s part to allow foreign inspectors into nuclear sites, “then we’re not going to get a deal.”
Inspections are not the only wrench in the works, though. Negotiators have had a difficult time handling the sanctions that the US has currently imposed on Iran. The talks also faltered when it came to defining what kind of research and development Iran would be allowed to carry out once it has its hands on such cutting-edge nuclear technology.
The negotiations have also seen positive developments occur. According to diplomats close to the talks, Iran has actually held up to its end of a deal stricken in 2013 by vastly shrinking its stockpile of enriched uranium that could be weaponized. Despite the large number of roadblocks on the path to securing a deal, Iran’s compliance on this issue represents, on some level, a good-faith effort to keep its word.
Not everyone is convinced of Iran’s willingness to cooperate. Senator David Perdue, a Republican from Georgia, said: “It’s no surprise that yet again, President Obama and Iran’s negotiators have failed to meet the June 30 deadline for a deal on the future of Iran’s nuclear program. Every step of the way, Iran has refused to accept reasonable terms, and instead, is moving dangerously closer to a nuclear weapon.”