Nuclear negotiations: seven more months

Time extension!

Time extension! If you ever played Daytona USA during your misspent youth you'll know the feeling well. It's relief tinged with anxiety: you've beaten the clock, but have to face one more lap of the circuit during which you might well spin off and end up in an ignominious fireball of death.

That's how some of us are feeling here at Redline HQ after the last couple of days in Vienna. In case you haven't heard, after a tense week of negotiations, Iran and the P5+1 have agreed to take another seven months to try to beat out a deal on Tehran's nuclear programme. It's a time extension, with all of the relief and anxiety that that entails: we didn't fail, but can't all pack up and go home just yet either.

So what's next? All the diplomats will be going back to their capitals. There, they'll re-group and work out what the discussions have said so far about Iran's uranium enrichment facilities and heavy water reactor, and how much more work remains before the complex world-wide net of sanctions can be pulled back.

Meanwhile, the IAEA has not lost any interest in the Possible Military Dimensions of Iran's past work. And there's more and more information being leaked by insiders from the Iranian military who've conducted or seen research being undertaken that's relevant to nuclear weapons. That leaves Iran a whole lot more to answer for on the nuclear weapon issue.

Hopefully Iran's leaders can find a way to dig themselves out of the hole that they've dug on PMD. After all, there are conservatives circling on all sides who'd like nothing better than seeing the negotiations die - with all the problems that would entail.

I'll take a time extension over failure any day.

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