UPDATE: 11/24   An agreement between the P5+! was reached. President Shimon Peres of Israel welcomed it: “the success or failure of the deal will be judged by results, not by words,” and he called on the Iranians “to reject terrorism” and to stop the nuclear program and the development of long-range missiles.

“Israel, like others in the international community, prefers a diplomatic solution,” Mr. Peres said. “But I want to remind everyone of what President Obama said, and what I have personally heard from other leaders: The international community will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. And if the diplomatic path fails, the nuclear option will be prevented by other means. The alternative is far worse.”

PM Netanyahu does not agree with Peres or Obama, on the merits of the interim agreement. And perhaps many in the U.S. Congress will second Netanyahu. But scuttling the agreement by imposing more sanctions rather than helping to control Iran's nuclear program would look like an act of revenge against Obama and Kerry for succeeding at diplomacy instead of starting a war.

Yesterday's post below:

Posted: Saturday, November 23..

What will happen in Geneva this week-end: A run down by Jim Lobe lays out the probable deal that the P5+1 is offering Iran. He recaps the goings-on in Washington between the Administration and the neo-cons, both in and out of Congress.

Most analysts, including administration officials involved in the negotiation, believe that any new sanctions – or curbs on Obama’s authority to waive existing ones – are likely to drive Iran from the table by bolstering hard-liners in Tehran who have long argued that Obama is either unwilling or unable to deliver what they regard as a minimally acceptable deal. Such a breakdown in the talks would return the two countries to a path of confrontation, significantly enhancing the chances of war, according to both the White House and most independent analysts....

Even if an interim accord is reached within the coming days, the lobby’s leaders and their backers in Congress have made clear they will not give up on their efforts to derail its implementation. Republican lawmakers, in particular, warned this week that, in addition to seeking new sanctions, they will introduce legislation aimed at reducing Obama’s room for manoeuvre.

A report in Saturday's NYTimes echoes much of this criticism and adds the fear that even a small modification in the sanctions will lead to their collapse. The sky may be falling!

No one seems to consider the reverse argument: if a deal fails the sanctions will collapse because too many countries and businesses, not just Iran, are losing a lot of money.


Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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