The rush by P5+1 to get something down on paper was entirely driven by American politics—a large, bipartisan well in the House and Senate, suspicious of Iran’s sincerity and trustworthiness, is keen to punish Tehran for not caving in more quickly. This urgency was criticized by France and others who said it played into Tehran’s hands, giving Iran another negotiating ace when it is in no hurry at all. Such critics may rightly look at American politics as a bizarre, small-time game of lots of hot air and a shortage of statesmanlike policy.

As the negotiations enter their final phase, Iran may watch the stakes go up, mainly because of its own taste for brinksmanship. In the absence of a tangible, finalized deal, Congress is as likely as not to impose harsher sanctions, to be triggered right around July 1.

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