Despite the definitive tone of the President’s pronouncement yesterday, the deal with Iran is still far from in the bag; rather, it’s at this point more of a deal to have a deal. The world got this to see this play out almost in real time yesterday via the Twitter feed of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif:
The question of the timing of sanctions relief will be perhaps the most difficult gulf to bridge between Iran and its negotiating partners. EU and U.S. announcements were focusing on the invasiveness of the inspection regime, and on sanctions relief being predicated on verification of compliance—but those questions will matter far less (and cheating will be far more likely) if we give up our sanctions leverage as soon as the deal is signed (as the Iranians seemed to signal would happen) rather than in stages once objectives are met (as the U.S. suggested).A middle ground exists somewhere in there—but it’s not clear that such a middle ground is acceptable to the skeptics in Tehran and Washington (not to mention in Jerusalem and Riyadh) who can do much to block any final deal. They may not have to, however: as TAI
editor Adam Garfinkle argues
, for all sorts of intrinsic reasons, it’s Iran that is likely to walk away by June 30. This framework might be trumpeted as an achievement by the Administration, but the real game has only just begun.