Today I write with equal confidence that Kentucky will win the NCAA basketball tournament and that Israel is putting the full court press on the governments of France, Germany and Britain to turn them against any nuclear agreement with Iran.
Talks have been taking place in Switzerland between the Islamic Republic of Iran and six nations known as the P5+1 — the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia — in quest of an agreement that would allow Iran to continue peaceful use of nuclear energy but prohibit it from obtaining nuclear weapons, while also providing Iran relief from western economic sanctions.
Last night, optimism bloomed:
The American Iranian Council issued a statement under the heading, “A Win for Diplomacy just took place.” It said: “Iran and the P5+1 have reached an understanding for a political framework in which key areas of agreement will be noted as well as outstanding issues, which will continue to be discussed until the June 30 deadline toward a comprehensive deal. Reportedly, the negotiating parties are drafting a text that will be delivered in the coming hours. . . .this is an important achievement that the American Iranian Council has pushed for both publicly and behind the scenes. . . . .the American Iranian Council urges both the US Congress and Iran’s revolutionaries to support the understanding that their nation’s top diplomats have reached. “
The White House told news organizations to expect “high level, robust engagement” to sell the agreement to Congress and the American public.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said before returning to Moscow that negotiators had reached a general accord on "all key aspects."
The impression at that time was that all participants were leaving it to “technical experts” to write the language of the preliminary agreement and have it ready sometime today.
If you thought Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, flush with his recent election victory, was going to leave it at that, you’ve got more than tobacco in your peace pipe.
Top diplomats from London, Paris and Berlin -- Israel's closest European friends -- headed home to take Bibi’s angry and impassioned phone calls. Lavrov is consulting with his boss, Vladimir Putin, whose ideas provided the basic framework of the agreement in principle that he thought had been forged.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi left for home, tossing over his shoulder the warning that, ”If the talks are stuck, then all previous efforts to resolve Iran's nuclear standoff with the six major powers will have been wasted,.”
Israel has already pulled the chains of its toadies in the U.S. Congress. The infamous writer of folly letters, Sen. Tom cotton of Arkansas, was button-holing people all over Washington to shreik that it was time for the United States to “walk away” from the talks.
Only Bibi knows what extreme methods the Israelis might employ to persuade Britain, France and Germany to torpedo the fragile but oh, so close preliminary agreement.
And so, back to the NCAA basketball tournament. One recent March, a beach walker kicked up a bottle in the sand and a genii appeared. “You have one wish,” the genii said. “I wish for peace in the Middle East,” the man said, and handed the genii a map of the area. The genii handed the map back, saying, “That’s too difficult, even for me. Make another wish.” The man said, “I wish for the University of Iowa to win the NCAA basketball tournament.” The genii paused, then said, “Let me see that map again.”
Look at the map again, diplomats of P5+1. Look at the map and listen to your consciences, not the angry rants from Israel.