President Obama said this month that he assessed the chance of reaching a permanent accord with Iran on its nuclear program as no "more than 50-50." For his part, Secretary of State John F. Kerry told Congress that he "came away from our preliminary negotiations" with Tehran "with serious questions about whether or not they're ready and willing to make some of the choices that have to be made."
Events in the past week have made clear that those bearish judgments were justified.
Iranian officials walked out of talks with the West last Friday not the negotiations about a final accord, which have not begun in earnest, but those on the implementation of the preliminary agreement reached in Geneva in November. The pretext was an announcement by the U.S. Treasury of actions against companies that have been violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The announcement should not come as a surprise: Though the United States and its partners agreed to some sanctions relief in Geneva, they made clear that they would continue to enforce measures constraining Iranian trade and banking.