0827 GMT September 24, 2019
The paper went on to say today was supposed to be the big day, the deadline for completing a comprehensive and epochal nuclear agreement on the future of Iran’s nuclear programme. But, as with every other deadline along the road to this deal, some wiggle room has been found, IRNA reported.
The negotiators now have an extra week or so before they face serious complications imposed by the US Congress, which would undoubtedly be mirrored by the Iranian Majlis. And there is clearly still a lot of work to do. Even if every detail was agreed, diplomats say it would still take a few days to get it down on paper and reviewed by lawyers. And there are still issues that have evidently not been agreed.
The new date looming in the minds of the harried negotiators is July 9, the deadline set by the US Congress in its Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act for the Obama administration to deliver a copy of the agreement to the legislature, which will have 30 days to look it over.
If that date is missed, Congress will have 60 days for scrutiny. That means an extra month in which it will be dissected, denounced and ridiculed by critics. Prodigious sums of money will be spent by fervent and monied opponents like Sheldon Adelson in the states of senators who are tentatively supportive of the agreement, but nervous about a backlash.
The congressional arithmetic is precarious. As things stand now, there are about 58 senators who would probably vote against a deal as outlined by a set of parameters agreed between Iran and six world powers in Lausanne in April. That is two short of the number the Republicans need to stop a Senate filibuster, and get a vote passed rejecting the deal. That would force Obama to use a veto, and if his opponents managed to muster 67 votes, they could over-ride that veto.
Getting to 67 currently looks like a steep climb, but given 60 days and a lot of money, it could be possible. Then all the years of negotiating would have been for naught.