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The Iran nuke stalemate in one tweet

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Reprinted from Asia Times

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna
(image by Asia Times)

The by now legendary tweet from Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif in which he quoted Abraham Lincoln is the Rosebud deciphering the current stalemate between the US and Iran in Vienna.

Zarif tweeted, "Mark my words; you can't change horses in the middle of a stream." Well, a privileged Iranian source told Asia Times "changing horses" is exactly what US President Barack Obama abruptly did -- in regard to conciliating positions he had agreed upon two days earlier.

This happened this past Wednesday night, Vienna time -- at the negotiating table.

Even before the cocktail party -- on the same day of the missed July 7 deadline -- the Obama administration was already on overdrive, dismissing the notion of the president signing any deal just for the sake of a "lone" foreign policy success to be heralded as his legacy.Things started to change after a working cocktail party in the State Dining Room in Washington on Tuesday night, when Obama appeared "not at all" concerned about the possible implications of the deal and said the chances "were less than 50-50 at this point."

By mid-week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry doubled down on his previous, undiplomatic tirade of last Sunday -- "the deal may go either way" -- and came up with the current "we may walk away" shtick, duly reproduced to exhaustion by US corporate media.

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"Changing horses" confirms everything Asia Times has previously reported from Vienna, after detailed conversations with diplomats and negotiators; as a top Iranian official told this correspondent last week, the Obama administration does not seem to have the political will -- at least not yet, if ever -- to really commit itself to ending, once and for all, the Wall of Mistrust against Iran.

Another Iranian official, in an on-the-record briefing this past Thursday, complained of a possible "major setback," although maintaining the official Iranian line that John Kerry is "serious." And he also confirmed what Asia Times had learned off the record -- that the US, the UK and France suddenly started backtracking on key parts of the Lausanne framework.

According to the same Iranian official, with direct access to the negotiating table, "it's not a multilateral negotiation. It looks like you're doing five bilaterals. Every country has their red line some times."

Tehran, on the other hand, has made its political decisions a long time ago, as Asia Times has reported. And the Iranian official came back to stressing the same point; "What is lacking is exactly the political decision that is needed on the other side."

So should we all remix America and start singing, "I've been to Vienna/in a horse with no deal"?

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A horse with no deal

In a week that was supposed to feature a clinched deal -- and now running past three deadlines -- the issue of the lifting of a 2007 UN arms embargo imposed on Iran also emerged, with US corporate media blaming Iran en masse for "new demands."

That's bogus. It's easy to forget that President Rouhani formerly led nuclear negotiations with Europe from 2003 to 2005. He always tried to prevent the transfer of Iran's nuclear file from the IAEA to the UN. It didn't make sense -- as this was a scientific/technical dossier. But Washington prevailed -- leading to the increasing politicization of the IAEA.

For the Iranian negotiators, UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions are the key; they must be abolished first and foremost because they legitimize all other Western sanctions. The easing off of all sanctions was agreed upon in the Lausanne framework. So that obviously includes the arms embargo, which is a UNSC nuclear-related sanction.

As an Iranian diplomat said this past Monday, "as far as Iran is concerned, we believe ... there should not be any place for the arms embargo ... There is no evidence whatsoever that the arms embargo has any relation to the nuclear issue."

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)

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