State Department relaxes inspection deadline for Iran
Credibility. In international affairs, credibility is vitally important. It makes negotiations possible and agreements stick.
Iran does not have any credibility. They have been lying to the world for more than a decade about their nuclear program. The meeting on Thursday between Iran and the 5 permanent Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1) was aimed to test Iran's credibility and develop confidence that they mean what they say about the peaceful nature of their program.
To that end, Iran agreed to allow inspectors into its recently revealed site near Qom. The president gave the Iranians 2 weeks to comply.
Or did they? The State Department doesn't think Iran's credibility needs to be tested. Tony Romm writing in The Hill:
A State Department spokesman on Friday signaled that the president's mandate that Iran has two weeks to permit inspections of its recently unveiled uranium refinement plant was not "written in stone."
"I don't think that there's a hard-and-fast deadline," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said during Friday's press briefing, after a reporter asked what the consequences of Iran's inaction might be.
"I think that we've made it quite clear this was a matter of some urgency; that we expected [Iran] to take urgent and concrete steps to open up this facility, and not only just open it up but also make sure that we were able to - or that the IAEA would be able to - talk to some of the engineers there and see documents and plans," Kelly added.
President Barack Obama first issued the tough two-week deadline in a speech following Thursday's meetings between Iran and the P5+1, a coalition of British, Chinese, French, German, Russian and U.S. officials. At the time, Obama reiterated the U.S. approach to Iran's nuclear program would be tough - especially so, he added, if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad failed to provide nuclear inspectors "unfettered access" to its uranium facilities.
Why the walkback? Negotiators hate deadlines. They don't like to put their counterparts on the spot. In fact, the State Department believes that if Iran is pushed too much, they may abandon talks altogether and pull out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as they have threatened to do numerous times.
Then where would Obama be? Another failure to explain away.
Hence. the relaxation of the two week deadline. In effect, we are sacrificing our credibility so the president's credibility doesn't take another hit.
What must the Iranians be thinking now?