After two days of futile talks in Moscow between Iran and representatives of the six world powers, it appears that Tehran has no interest in striking a deal any time soon. The negotiations had been hailed by many diplomats as the best chance in years for a breakthrough that would halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions without resorting to a military strike. The Financial Times details the lack of progress in Moscow:
[T]he meeting ended at the lowest end of expectations, with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative, saying there was “a long way to go” before a successful outcome could be attained.The only agreement reached in Moscow was that “technical experts” from Iran and the international community would meet on July 3 to examine prospects for a deal that would see Iran scale back its programme. This will be followed up by telephone calls between senior diplomats from the EU and Iran.
The failure to strike a deal in Moscow also means that the U.S. and EU will likely implement their full range of sanctions, beginning July 1, and which are expected to cost the Iranian economy $4.5 billion a month in lost oil revenues. That’s not chump change, and once the full effect of the sanctions kick in there might be some movement on the Iranian side. But if, as appears increasingly likely, Tehran has made the calculation that it is willing to do whatever it takes to acquire a nuclear weapon, then no amount of pressure will force Iran to fold its hand.The biggest loser from the failed talks, next to the long suffering people of Iran, may be the Obama administration. The White House wants to look tough on Iran but it does not want to alarm its base by threatening war. That will be harder to achieve now; Iran’s refusal to bargain constructively leaves Washington with fewer, and uglier, options than it wants.