The extension of the JPA is better than a bad deal but the status quo of Iran's current nuclear program is not acceptable.
To date, the economic benefits accrued to Iran are greater than what was contemplated in the JPA. While the state of the Iranian economy remains in difficulty, Iran's economy has improved and the regime's diplomatic isolation has lessened. So far, however, Iran has not shown a willingness to dismantle any of its uranium enrichment capabilities and it continues to research and develop missile delivery systems and advanced centrifuges.
The course of the negotiations has revealed a clear gap on the most important issue -- the number and type of centrifuges. With its current enrichment capacity, Iran's breakout time to produce fissile material for a bomb remains at a few months. However, Iran has been unwilling to consider a reduction in its current capacity, and the Supreme Leader recently proclaimed that Iran seeks a much larger enrichment program. This is unacceptable. If Iran remains unwilling to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure, forgo an industrial-scale enrichment program and address the ongoing questions about the military dimensions of its nuclear program, there is little potential for a diplomatic resolution.
Iran must come to understand that there will be historic adverse economic consequences imperiling its economy if there is a failure to reach a final and acceptable agreement.
Therefore, the U.S. and its P5+1 partners must:
1. Make clear that Iran remains closed for business and that the uncertainty surrounding these nuclear negotiations makes the business climate in Iran far too risky for responsible businesses to return;
2. Ensure existing sanctions are enforced more aggressively;
3. Agree on decisive sanctions that would constitute a virtual economic blockade of Iran should Iran fail to agree to an acceptable deal over the term of the extended negotiation.
By strongly discouraging business interest in re-entering Iran, rigorously enforcing existing and remaining sanctions and agreeing on comprehensive embargo-like sanctions absent a comprehensive deal, the P5+1 will increase chances for a successful negotiation and ensure that the negotiations themselves - currently in a state of diplomatic inertia - do not become the new status quo.