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How To Muddle Through With Iran

Finding Middle Ground In the Iranian Nuclear Talks

Video cameras are set up prior to a meeting between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, October 14, 2014. Leonhard Foeger / Courtesy Reuters

It is no accident that hardly anyone involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the November 24 deadline for a comprehensive agreement. The Iranian and U.S. governments are continuing to meet regularly -- most recently last week in Vienna -- but there are few signs of meaningful progress. Indeed, the essence of the deal that has always made most sense -- a rollback of the Iranian nuclear program in return for a rollback of sanctions -- seems increasingly beyond reach. Instead, the Iranians have been insisting on a rollback of the sanctions in return only for limited transparency on their industrial-size nuclear program. But Washington has insisted for a long time that, given Iran’s past violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), limited transparency won’t be enough. Further, it has already stated that it will not accept an industrial-scale program, although it is prepared

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