Officially, the United States and its Western allies say it is vital that Iran fully addresses the concerns of the U.N. nuclear agency if it wants a diplomatic settlement that would end sanctions severely hurting its oil-based economy.
"Iran’s previous activities have to come to light and be explained," a senior Western diplomat said.
Privately, however, some officials acknowledge that Iran would probably never admit to what they believe it was guilty of: covertly working in the past to develop the means and expertise needed to build a nuclear-armed missile.
See? We're willing to pretend that Iran isn't even seeking nuclear weapons. Just in time for the Monday "deadline" for a final agreement.
Which means we won't have leverage to complain that the mullahs are seeking nuclear weapons contrary to an agreement.
And which also means that Iran can portray themselves as an innocent victim of Western aggression that suffered under sanctions for no good reason other than to starve poor Moslem children.
Once we start pretending, what's the limit? I'm sure that we will then pretend the deal worked right up until Iran tests a nuclear weapon (perhaps first in North Korea) and announces that it has already deployed a half dozen weapons of the same design.
And we'll pretend Iran's nuclear status really doesn't matter.
Hell, Secretary of State Kerry will even continue to pretend that he earned the resulting Nobel Peace Prize over that deal that he'll spend the rest of his life polishing and photographing.
And our president will pretend that this deal is why he got his own back in 2009.
Have a super sparkly day. If you can pretend all is well, that is.
UPDATE: Lessons from our government in being unclear on the concept:
Iran and six world powers looked set to miss Monday's deadline for resolving a 12-year stand-off over Tehran's nuclear ambitions and are already looking at a possible extension of the negotiations.
We set a deadline for Iran to meet our concerns. They failed to meet our demands.
Unless our diplomats are unclear on what "deadline" means (And they may, since I lost track of what deadline Monday represents. Fourth? Seventh?), the proper response is to pack up our stuff, give them our phone number, come home, begin discussing further sanctions, and otherwise prepare for the military option that we insist is on the table.
If we don't do those things, why would Iran ever take us seriously?
Which is a question that answers itself, I suppose.
UPDATE: We have a new and improved deadline:
"We have had to conclude it is not possible to get to an agreement by the deadline that was set for today and therefore we will extend the JPOA to June 30, 2015," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters at the end of the talks.
Sheer idiocy. Every time we fail to act as if a deadline is a line at which the negotiations die, the Iranians learn that we value talking more than results.
I suppose that I should be grateful that we didn't go to a higher degree of idiocy by concluding a deal by the deadline that conforms to my expectations that any agreement will consist of Iran pretending to stop nuclear weapons programs while we pretend to believe them.
As long as we talk, Iran makes progress toward getting a nuclear weapon.
Worse, even if our president is serious that "all options are on the table"--that oblique vow to use force if Iran won't agree to terms that end their nuclear threat--by making Iran contemptuous of that vow, we increase the chance that we actually will have to resort to war to keep Iran from going nuclear.
Or make sure the Israelis strike.