Foreign Policy editor David Rothkopf said Friday that the Obama administration has "backed down on" a lot of its red lines with Iran.
Rothkopf joined the panel of MSNBC’s The Cycle to discuss the interminable nuclear negotiations in Vienna, which were extended for a fourth time yesterday as the Iranians seek further concessions, including the removal of an embargo on arms and missiles to the country.
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"Is this a plank that we can afford to back down on to get this thing done?" MSNBC host Touré asked.
"I would have said no," Rothkopf deadpanned, "but there have been a lot of planks we couldn't afford to back down on that we backed down on in terms of deadlines, in terms of enrichment, in terms of a whole host of other things."
Rothkopf said that any deal struck with Iran is only as good as its verification and enforcement mechanisms—both areas that experts have expressed grave concerns about in practical terms.
Rothkopf indicated that he was dubious of the administration’s proposed "snapback" sanctions, which would punish Iranian nuclear cheating with an immediate resumption of United Nations sanctions.
"I'm skeptical of snapbacks," Rothkopf said. "I think it's a bit of a fantasy."
Under normal circumstances, U.N. sanctions can only be imposed with the approval of Security Council member nations, which include two of Iran’s allies, Russia and China. Experts fear those powers could intervene to protect Iran from snapback enforcement.
Administration officials, for their part, contend that sanctions could snap back without support from Russia or China, but have not disclosed how that would work.
"We will retain the ability to snap back multilateral sanctions architecture back in place, without Russian or Chinese support," Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday.
"While I can’t get into the specifics of the mechanism right now, because we’re at a very delicate stage in the negotiations, and all of this is being worked through to the finest detail, I can say number one: Congress will be briefed as soon as the deal is done, if it gets done," she added. "And number two: we will not support a snap-back mechanism or an agreement that includes a snap-back mechanism that leaves us vulnerable."