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by
Bridget Johnson

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July 18, 2014 - 5:45 pm

With two days to go until the July 20 deadline for a final nuclear agreement with Iran, the Obama administration announced Friday evening that it would extend the deadline by four months.

In a lengthy statement from the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest lauded Washington’s “unprecedented diplomatic effort with the Islamic Republic of Iran to achieve a comprehensive solution to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“As verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has met its commitments under that initial accord – ceasing its enrichment of uranium to higher levels; taking steps to neutralize its more dangerous stockpile of nuclear material; refraining from installing more centrifuges, including its more advanced models; halting advances at its Arak reactor; and submitting to broader and far more frequent inspections of its facilities,” Earnest said. “Meanwhile, the relief provided by the P5+1 and EU has been limited, and the overwhelming majority of our sanctions remain in force.”

The White House insisted that while “our negotiators have made progress in some areas and, while real gaps remain, there is a credible prospect for a comprehensive deal.”

“Because of this – and because Iran has upheld its commitments under the initial accord – we agreed today to extend the Joint Plan of Action to November 24. This extension will allow us to continue the negotiations while ensuring that the progress of Iran’s nuclear program remains halted during the negotiations,” Earnest said.

He added “throughout this process, we have consulted regularly with Congress, whose efforts have been critical in supporting this diplomatic opportunity” — but lawmakers have regularly complained throughout the six-month period that they haven’t been included in the process.

“We have also engaged closely with our regional partners and allies – particularly Israel and our Gulf partners – given our shared interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and the United States’ enduring commitment to regional security,” Earnest said.

“We will not accept anything less than a comprehensive resolution that meets our objectives, which is why it is necessary for negotiations to continue.”

On Wednesday, the White House wouldn’t say if it would extend the talks, but was paving the way by waxing about Iran’s “surprisingly favorable” record.

Secretary of State John Kerry insisted tonight “this effort remains as intense as it is important, and we have come a long way in a short period of time.”

“Less than a year ago, President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani spoke for the first time to try to usher in a new diplomatic moment, and I held the first bilateral meeting between a Secretary of State and an Iranian Foreign Minister in more than three decades,” he said in a statement. “Since that time, we’ve been intensely engaged in a constant and comprehensive effort – the best chance we’ve ever had to resolve this issue peacefully.”

The six-month interim agreement, Kerry claimed, “has been a clear success.”

“Today, we have a draft text that covers the main issues, but there are still a number of brackets and blank spaces in that text,” he said, adding that some of those gaps are concentrated around “issues such as enrichment capacity at the Natanz enrichment facility.”

“Diplomacy takes time, and persistence is needed to determine whether we can achieve our objectives peacefully. To turn our back prematurely on diplomatic efforts when significant progress has been made would deny ourselves the ability to achieve our objectives peacefully, and to maintain the international unity that we have built. While we’ve made clear that no deal is better than a bad deal, the very real prospect of reaching a good agreement that achieves our objectives necessitates that we seek more time,” Kerry continued.

The Nov. 24 date was picked because it’s exactly one year since the initial agreement was finalized in Geneva. Kerry argued the extension is “warranted by the progress we’ve made and the path forward we can envision.”

The U.S. “will continue to suspend the sanctions we agreed to under the JPOA and will allow Iran access to $2.8 billion dollars of its restricted assets, the four-month prorated amount of the original JPOA commitment,” he said.

Kerry was quickly booked on all five Sunday morning news shows.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that Tehran would be open to an extension “if it becomes clear that the opposite side respects the Iranian nation’s rights and viewpoints within the framework of international law.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on the floor of the upper chamber this week noted the “same obfuscation, same Iranian tactics we’ve seen for decades … that’s not an endgame – that’s a nonstarter.”

Menendez stressed that the only acceptable agreement is one that would set off alarm bells if Iran tries to attain nuclear weapons capability over the next 20 to 30 years.

Along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Menendez circulated a letter to President Obama around the Senate this week to gather signatures on the need for a tough stance against Tehran, touching off a lobbying battle of sorts with pro-Iranian groups.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said tonight the extension sounds like anything but the “progress” claimed by Kerry.

“It looks like the Iranians won extra time with a good cop-bad cop routine, backing off the Supreme Leader’s absurd claim for 190,000 centrifuges,” Royce said. “This tells me Iran, with centrifuges spinning, thinks time is on its side. Increased economic pressure would strengthen our hand, but the administration opposes it. It should welcome congressional efforts to ratchet up the economic pressure on Iran.”

“Any deal should be graded on its technical merits, not in the hopes of a partnership with Iran on Iraq and other issues, as some have argued,” the chairman added. “Iran’s terrorist-backing activities, including illicitly shipping missiles to Hamas, demands even higher standards of verification for any deal. Everything about Iran’s nuclear program signals ‘nuclear bomb,’ yesterday, today, and I worry tomorrow.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
Top Rated Comments   
The P5+1 is a group of six world powers[1] which in 2006 joined the diplomatic efforts with Iran with regard to its nuclear program

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P5%2B1

8 f_____g years later, the DIP-lo-mats are still yapping and most sanctions have been lifted by Obama And we get ...?

What could go wrong?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
A 4 month extension after a 6 month extension after ...

You get the ideal.
10 weeks ago
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All Comments   (25)
All Comments   (25)
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I might care about this if I thought any agreement with Iran would be worth the paper it's written on.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
This HAS to be done by the twentieth of this month!....but we'll give 'em padding of an extra hundred-twenty days.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wouldn't want these talks to fail right before an election. Top men are on it.
Top men.
10 weeks ago
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Exactamundo!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gee, just look to the future. Obama replaced by Elizabeth Warren. Won't that be just fine?!
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
why don't we just send some more lawyers and incumbent incompetents to washington to fix things? they are doing such a bang-up job now, let's elect some more.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I bet half a pay check I don't have a clue J.F. Kerry is a flag holder for global Marxism.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
After all this time...and still no bomb? It's always six months away. The original Manhattan Project took three years and designs have been public knowledge for decades. I think the Iranians are trapped. If they produce a bomb their crazy rhetoric means they'd have to use it--and be destroyed. The mullahs like their pleasures more than real Armageddon.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Aside from Raygun's excellent comment, two words: Nuclear blackmail.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hear what you're saying. Certainly, the threat of 'The Bomb' keeps gears grinding that grist for the mill. But I fear that most of the time many people think the Iranian's (and many other bad actors) capacity is limited to one Jack Bauer-sized, tension-filled but easily solvable kaboom at 00:02 on the timer and not several asymmetrically-sized Big Satan and Little Satan problem solvers.

Always remember: They love death, always. They welcome it, relentlessly. They know it to be the only way to rid themselves of the U.S. and The Jewish Problem™ because our culture, The West, does not yet comprehend on a cellular level that they mean it. They. Mean. It.

If we were serious, we'd already be discussing the banalities of how well the Mars terraforming was going instead of all this distraction and time wasting.

Stay frosty and believe the hype.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Minor amendment: They love death--for others. The leaders always seem to try hard to avoid it.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just past the election...whereupon we are going to see all the dirtiest schemes hatched against America and Israel.

The House, Senate and Supreme Court will be helpless to intervene.

2015 will be the ugliest year in American history.

The world is teetering on the brink.

Kerry announces his own "success". How any secret deal that has finalized exactly squat is deemed a "success" is only possible if your measure is stall, hinder and delay...while giving state sponsored terrorism a few more billion.

People have no real sense of the peril. That's good and bad. It will keep the number of breakdowns and bridge jumping tamped down.

But it will stifle the needed resistance.

The Republicans, as usual...are completely unaware.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I REALLY don't get just how the Republicans can still be completely unaware.
They certainly are: They've all but come out and said that our Constitution ALLOWS a president to ignore the laws -- Goodlatte's statement the other day that Obama has not committed impeachable offenses is an example.

It's like they don't expect any of the possible consequences to bother THEM. "I don't care if the country is overrun, I don't care if we get a nuclear war or 100,000 killed in a terrorist attack or the economy collapses to barter as long as my poll numbers are okay ..."

I cannot get inside that thinking.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
They see "overreach" what they miss is overthrow.

They are so mired in process they completely fail to see systems. The systematic dismantling of the Constitution, free market, checks and balances, representative self-governance, borders, national identity, religious freedom, political dissent and free speech.

This is NOT Hubert Humphrey, this is anarchy.

The Republicans react as if they are in debate club against Joe Lieberman. They aren't. They are tied to the whipping post by The Weatherman Underground.

Again, they see and react to individual acts of tyranny as if they are separate deeds. They chase each scandal like a dog chases its tail.

They fail to see the whole unified picture. Treason.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Neville Chamberlain thought he had a good agreement in 1938 too!
Six years later most of Europe and Britain lay in ruin and millions were dead.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch; Iran continues their march toward nuclear weapons capability.

When the ICBM hits it's mark; Big O will read about it in the newspaper. He'll blame George Bush and then go on a fund raising trip, take a vacation, or a play a round of golf. Or, he might just go upstairs and play a game of spades; while the world crumbles around us.

Can it get any worse? I fear that it could.
Billary and Fauxahantas are waiting in the wings for their turn at incompetence.

10 weeks ago
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Now, the Iranians have duped us into granting them more time to develop and fine tune their nuclear capabilities.

There seems to be no end to the dangerous silliness of this Obama creation and his claque.

Whatever it takes in the way of testicular bipartisan action to impeach Obama, it simply must be accomplished somehow.

These Congress-PERSONS [sarc. ON] must get out of their tenured chairs, cease their vote counting for their reelection and actually impeach and convict Obama the good of our Nation.

There's no other way out of this unprecedented asinine situation.
10 weeks ago
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