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If a deal is struck with the Iranians over the coming months, expect it to feature technical formulas comprehensible only to experts: complex rules on how many centrifuges the Iranians may spin, how much uranium may be enriched to what levels, the size of stockpiles, and what international weapons inspectors may see.

Such a deal would let Iran’s rulers continue to move toward the nuclear finish line, while lifting most of the remaining economic pressure. Both sides would claim diplomacy had succeeded. About that, one side would be telling the truth. The other side, however, would be pretending.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.