Despite the encouraging outcome of yesterday's talks in Geneva, the nuclear standoff with Iran is far from over. It will not end for the U.S. until there is full, ongoing compliance with all protocols of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) inspection regime. And so long as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is Iran's president, it very likely will not end for Iran until breakout capability has been achieved.
It should not be surprising that yesterday in Geneva, Ahmadinejad's recalcitrant regime appeared to make major concessions to the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany (P5+1). In order to ensure his own political effectiveness and legacy, Ahmadinejad may extend such compromises not only on atomic inspection, but also on counterterrorism and even Middle East peace, all in exchange for Iran's inclusion within the global economic community.
Given his past words and deeds, however, the question remains whether those offers represent short-term ploys or legitimate and constructive long-term commitments. For now, though, the Iranians' smooth talk and conciliatory positions in Geneva bought the domestically autocratic and internationally adversarial Iranian government much-needed time, at little cost.