The Obama administration has spent the last few months furiously arguing that diplomacy backed up by tough sanctions is the only possible path to stop Iran’s drive for nuclear capability. But in agreeing to a new round of negotiations with the Iranians, Washington has set itself up to be made to look ridiculous. The ayatollahs have shown themselves to be masters of diplomatic gamesmanship as they have repeatedly made fools out of the European negotiators who have sought in recent years to craft some sort of compromise on the nuclear issue.
But anyone in either the White House or the State Department who thought this latest round of diplomacy would go differently got a shock today when the Iranians made it clear that as far as they were concerned the agreement to talk was merely a signal for the games to begin. As the New York Times reports, the Iranians have already started to stall by insisting on changing the venue of the talks. Though the negotiations were scheduled to begin next week in Turkey, a country that is openly siding with the Iranians, having as their host another Islamist government wasn’t good enough for Tehran. They are now suggesting Iraq or China as alternatives. To show just how far the Iranians are prepared to go to turn this process into a farce, they are also considering suggesting the talks be held in Syria, where, presumably, negotiators can witness Iran’s ally mowing down dissenters in the streets.