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Sitting next to Iran's foreign minister Sunday as he said that another extension of the nuclear talks isn't "in the interests of anybody," it seemed clear that this particular can isn't going to get kicked down the road much farther.The seeming impasse raises an unpleasant but essential question: What should the United States and Iran do if the talks fail?American negotiators have insisted that sanctions will be removed gradually, in a phased process, as Iran shows that it is abiding by the terms of the overall agreement.Iran will want to claim that it was the aggrieved party, and that its generous concessions were spurned. The U.S. could counter that Iran never agreed to a formula for guaranteeing that its nuclear program is for civilian use only.In this finger-pointing, any new U.S. sanctions could make Iran look like the victim; an Iranian push to resume large-scale enrichment would reinforce the case that Iran is pushing toward making a nuclear weapon.
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