VIENNA — A deadline is a deadline, except, it seems, at the Iran nuclear negotiations.
As diplomats declared they were entering yet another overtime period on Tuesday — the second since negotiators blew past the supposedly final June 30 deadline for concluding the accord — they sidestepped any talk of a firm date for reaching one of the hardest but potentially most consequential accords in recent diplomatic history.
“We are continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days,” said Federica Mogherini, the foreign policy chief for the European Union, who insisted that should not be construed as establishing yet another deadline.
Yet at the same time, Western officials, knowing that it is important to have the other side always believe that you are ready to walk away, asserted that the talks were not open-ended.
“We are taking negotiations day by day,” said Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the American negotiating team.
For the Obama administration, its critics in Congress and even for the Iranians, the psychology and tactics of setting deadlines have changed drastically over the past year.Earlier this year, congressional Republicans pressed for a firm date for coming up with an agreement, warning they were ready to respond to a negotiating failure by imposing tougher sanctions on Iran.