Obama Takes A Huge Step Forward Towards an Agreement Deescalating Tensions with Iran

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Late Friday evening, at 7:50 PM Eastern and 1:50 AM in Vienna, Austria, Senior White House administration officials teleconferenced on background with reporters regarding the good news. There has been sufficient progress in negations with Iran to move forward with the next several months of negotiation. Right before the call, the extension had been agreed to.

“We reached agreement tonight. For those of you who don’t know, it’s 2:00 in the morning here,” a Senior White House official told reporters last night, voice weary but obviously pleased with the progress.

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In addition to continuing the Joint Plan of Action, “Iran has agreed that it will move forward in a more expeditious manner to complete the fabrication of all 20 percent oxide in Iran into fuel in a timely manner, and will indeed during this four-month period fabricate 25 kilograms of its 20 percent oxide into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. In addition, Iran will dilute all of its up to two percent stockpile. That is at least three metric tons. And although it doesn’t hold much SWU, separate work units – that’s the measure of energy, so to speak – at the moment, in a breakout scenario it’s quite significant and quite important. So we think this is a big step forward.”

President Obama had to fight with Congress to even get the room to try to negotiate a nuclear agreement with Iran. He finally got that room, but Congress is waiting in the wings to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran and trying to dictate terms of a final agreement. Under the Obama administration, the European Union, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, Korea and Norway have imposed national sanctions on broad economic sectors in Iran.

As negotiators headed to Vienna at the beginning of the month to work toward an agreement with Iran, President Obama directed them to see if there had been sufficient progress over the past six months in the negotiations with Iran in order to justify a continued effort toward an agreement. If there had, they would continue on until November 24.

Good news. This means that negotiations will be “extended” through November 24th, even though the original plan called for them to last a year. It’s more of a “passing Go” type of extension. If you accomplish this, you can proceed with the plan.

The Joint Plan of Action is working so far. It has halted the progress of the Iranian program and rolled it back, although there are still gaps. In exchange, Iran got modest relief but their economy is by no means recovered and heavy sanctions are still imposed.

A Senior White House official explained that there are still gaps, so they are not saying everything has been resolved, “but it does mean that we saw openings and progress and creative proposals that began to see a potential assurance that elements of the Iranian program could be assured as peaceful to our satisfaction.”

The path toward a more peaceful co-existence is treacherous and requires constant effort. Additionally, the negotiators consulted on a regular basis with Israel and worked toward being more transparent with Israel about their efforts.

It sounded as if negotiating with Iran thus far had been rewarding and difficult at the same time. This is the tough work of slogging it through in an effort to avoid escalation. The hundreds of people working on an agreement with Iran can’t offer us any guarantees. We don’t get guarantees with much in life, but certainly with trigger sensitive negotiations, anything can happen. But what we can have is hope, and a sense that we are doing everything in our power to avoid escalating a conflict as the first or second resort rather than last resort.

While the previous administration took a more sanctions-oriented turn in 2006 with Iran (weapon oriented sanctions, not broader economic or oil sanctions as under Obama), it’s also fair to say that there is a cost to cowboy diplomacy, and one of those costs is a loss of esteem and good will. Obama took a marked deviation from Bush’s overall approach, in that he decided to try first to deal directly with Iran. It was after this effort, which his administration believes added credibility to his requests, that not only the U.N. but the E.U. and other countries enacted broad economic sanctions beyond the U.N.’s resolutions.

It’s also fair to say that Congressional Republicans wanted to make a show of force, even if that force was just a threat, rather than give room for diplomacy to work. Lindsey Graham keeps the pedal to the metal full throttle at all times, cowboy hat teetering recklessly in the wind, his hands off the wheel and his eyes closed.

The speak-softly-but-carry-a-big-stick approach of President Obama is markedly different, and in this case, effective precisely because of his diplomatic efforts before he needed/wanted something.

There’s no telling if an ultimate nuclear agreement will be reached. But each small step is a victory for diplomacy, and diplomacy is much more the Obama Doctrine than the Bush Doctrine.

21 Replies to “Obama Takes A Huge Step Forward Towards an Agreement Deescalating Tensions with Iran”

  1. Great Job Mr. President and his administration although I have one question for you chicken little’s out there. If we can live with Pakistan having the bomb which is a far less stable country what is it that give you the heepy jebbys if Iran has the bomb?

  2. What a fluff piece of journalism…claiming BHO’s failure to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power as a success. Obama’s failure on ALL fronts of national security matters increases the possibility of war. Hillary would have been a much better President.

  3. I like how you gave yourself a thumbs up before this shit was even posted. But a question for you seeing you have all the knowledge of a expert. How does Iran own nukes affect the US?

  4. All fronts? LOL. You haven;t been paying attention. It’s easy to appease your MIC puppet masters by lobbing a few cruise missiles around at the cost of $3 million each. But it doesn’t really do much in the long game. President Obama is hitting these bad actors where it really hurts – in the pocket books – and we’re seeing the fruit of this tactic. Putin and his buddies have lost access to billions and he hasn’t invaded Ukraine. His minions messed up with a anti-aircraft battery and he’s pissed. Just wait to see what Obama does next in the financial industry to increases pressure. Syria gives up actual (not suspected as in Iraq) WMDs and not ONE U.S. servie member died doing it. Thank you President Obama for being an adult and not a wannabe bully. Redneck conservofascists call bullies like Cheney and Dubya as people who “have all hat, no cattle.” And with Dubya’s fake ranch in Crawford, that is very appropriate.

  5. Before the Theocracy, Before Reagan and the hostages, Before the Shah.. What was Iran??

    Wasn’t it the only constitutional democracy in that part of the world??
    And who helped to transform them into what is there today

  6. He could deal with all our enemies bUT the assholes in the house a bunch of do nothing racist that cheat every day on there taxes do nothing and do us a favor

  7. Unfortunately President Obama can’t deal with all of our nation’s enemies. If he could the republicans would be working with him instead of punishing the nation for electing Obama twice.

  8. Iran is not building any nukes, that’s been proven. They want nuclear power plants and ships and research stuff, not weapons. The wisdom of nuclear power plants is a different debate that can go on for days by itself. Obama is killing the warmongers with diplomacy. The neocons and the Israeli’s won’t like it but they are busy with ISIS and Baghdad and Gaza right now. They’ll have to wait on their war with Iran plan.

  9. Please provide us with, you know, facts, as to why the President’s efforts have ALL failed.

    So here’s another chance for an anti to use actual facts to back up general statements based in ignorance and hate.

    We’ll be waiting….

  10. If one uninformed individual were to watch Fox News channel for a week straight 24/7(I do not recommend it)one would come away believing the president is a colossal failure on all fronts. There are billions of dollars aligned all across the conservative run mainstream media to make sure that Americans feel president Obama is a failure. Case and point is the fact 2014 so far has seen the strongest payroll gains since the last Democratic president was in office way back in 1999. But all of a sudden all conservatives want to talk about is the labor participation rate being at a thirty year low(Baby Boomers retiring at an epic record pace). When did anybody hear about the labor participation rate before our first black Democratic president? President Obama is going down as the greatest president since I believe the great FDR. Especially if this Iran deal goes through. Lord willing it will strike a death blow straight through the heart oh the MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

  11. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how adults accomplish things in this world. Not with guns and bombs and the like – but with diplomacy, with good old fashioned talking, with a little give-and-take.

    Now, think what problems our Congress could solve if they would do the same.

  12. How nice it is to have a rational, reasonable adult as President of the United States. How rewarding it is to see Iran and the USA cooperating toward the greater good. Bush Cheney wrecked all semblance of stability in the Middle East and left the region open to mayhem and the intensification of terrorism. I applaud this direction by the Obama administration and urge them on toward disavowing the brutal occupation of the Palestinians. He should call for UN peacekeeping troops into Palestine now.

  13. “Obama’s failure on ALL fronts of national security matters …”

    I’ll be sure to try and share your thoughts with Osama bin Laden.

    Oh, wait – I CAN’T do that, can I? That’s because Pres. Obama got rid of him in short order. Something Dumbya failed to do in over SIX YEARS.

  14. The obstructionism toward Obama has been reprehensible. People who do not deserve to be in office and prevent important issues from coming up for debate and a vote (get this) continue to be paid! People who describe themselves as progressive need to get out and vote and to persuade like minded individuals to do the same. We will never fix this extremist led House of Representatives unless we mobilize and pronto.

  15. John, the Republicans wouldn’t be working with Obama under ANY circumstances. They had a meeting before Obama was even inaugurated and agreed to block ANYTHING and EVERYTHING he proposed, no matter what it was. And that’s exactly what they have done. Mitch McConnell stated that the main objective of the Republicans was to make sure that Obama was a 1 term president.

    They don’t give a hoot ‘n hell about their constituents. Still don’t. They have to pander to the radical base they grabbed on to. Revolting.

  16. Who ever wrote this article clearly worships the ground that Obama walks on and doesn’t understand Iranian government at all. It is a GREAT idea to use diplomacy on a government who denies the Holocaust ever happened & swears that as soon as they make a nuke that they will “Wipe Israel off the map.” Diplomacy is not how you deal with a powerful mad man. In this case, Obama got lucky. I wouldn’t call this a win for his administration.

  17. And I suppose you actually think that THEY think the Holocaust never happened? Get a grip. They maintain a certain stance for their people, but any of the leaders knows damm well what is at stake

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