Key Test of Obama’s Political Will in Iran Negotiations

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The U.S. and Iran are having bilateral talks. Iran has no program to develop nuclear weapons, and that’s not a sticking point. Iran is willing to ramp up transparency so that its legal nuclear activities remain clearly on the peaceful side. Does Obama have the political will to agree to this, as opposed to insisting on zero nuclear activities of Iran altogether, a position that infringes on Iran’s treaty rights? Iran wants to see sanctions lifted in exchange for steps it takes to assure everyone that its legal nuclear activities are held within peaceful bounds. Will Obama make this deal or spurn it? Obama wants to make a deal. He has to fend off the pro-Israel press, the vocal neocons, the Israel lobby and Congress. But as second-term president, he has little to lose by charting his own course.

Hillary Clinton has staked out a more hardline position. She continues to make judgments that prove to be wrong. In Iran’s case, she expressed skepticism even about the interim agreement, which is holding up well. Further, she has kept up the rhetoric of all options on the table. And, following the straight Israeli line, she has mis-characterized the objective as being to remove nuclear capabilities from Iran.

Anyone who insists on Iran’s ending its missile program is trying to torpedo the talks and potential deals altogether. Such persons at high White House levels include Wendy Sherman and Bernadette Meehan. Obama has to march to a different drummer than these people if he is to make a deal with Iran.

10:57 am on June 10, 2014