The accord to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions seems to have come unstuck.
The official narrative in Tehran is that Iran signed nothing. "There is no treaty and no pact," says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, "only a statement of intent."
The initial narrative claimed that the P5+1 group of nations that negotiated the deal with Iran had recognized the Islamic Republic’s right to enrich uranium and agreed to start lifting sanctions over a six-month period. In exchange, Iran would slow its uranium enrichment and postpone for six months the installation of equipment for producing plutonium.
On Sunday, an editorial published by the office of "Supreme Guide" Ali Khameini, claimed that the "six month" period of the accord was meaningless and that a final agreement might "even take 20 years to negotiate."
The new Iranian narrative is that talks about implementing an accord that is not legally binding have collapsed and that, in the words of the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Ali-Akbar Salehi, there is no change. "Our centrifuges are working full capacity," Salehi said Thursday.
Secretary of State Kerry and his European colleagues may have fallen for the diplomatic version of Three Card Monte played by the mullahs since they seized power in 1979.
If unable to impose its will on others, the regime will try to buy time through endless negotiations.
In Three Card Monte, suckers stay in the game in the hope of getting it right next time.
Hopes of a negotiated solution make it more difficult for anyone to advocate military action. As long as talks are going on, "all other options", the cliché favored by President Obama, remain off the table.
Under the Geneva deal the US and its European partners not only set the military option aside, but also undertake not to impose additional sanctions.
The mullahs have reaped other benefits. The national currency lost 80 percent of its value over four years, but now appears to have stabilized.