The Obama administration announced Tuesday morning that it had struck a deal with other major powers, including Russia and China, to impose new sanctions on Iran, a sharp repudiation of the deal Tehran offered just a day before to ship its nuclear fuel out of the country.The first part of that sentence is news. The second part is...Peter Baker? The Times editorial board? David Sanger?
It's too bad that the Times chose to frame this story that way. Or perhaps it makes the negotiation more effective.
Brazil and Turkey persuaded Iran to agree to a modification of the deal that has been on the table for some time, and now a sanctions agreement is announced? There are other interpretations beyond repudiation of the deal. It's not clear to me from the quotes that this is not a continuation of the negotiations; unfortunately, the Times quotes from Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton are fragmentary enough that it's hard to tell what she actually said. We also do not know what Brazil and Turkey are being told behind the scenes.
So let's say that this is another step in the negotiation. The message is that Iran's Perils of Pauline strategy - poor little Iran on the railroad track, sanctions train stopped just in time - has been used too many times. As I agreed yesterday with Geoffrey Forden, the United States is being played. But so are China and Russia, who may just be getting tired of that.
Negotiations on sanctions have been ongoing, and yes, we have an agreement. There was no reason to end those negotiations just because Iran had (maybe) agreed to a deal that isn't that different from deals it could have agreed to a year ago. And, when Iran has had agreement offered to it, it has slipped away with disagreements (maybe genuine) within its own government. So enough already. Let us know you're serious, because we're serious about the sanctions.
The United States has bought time by asking that the IAEA review the agreement; it has neither rejected nor accepted it.
The ball is now in Iran's court.