Those who follow this space know that I’ve been harping on the idea of avoiding a deadline for talks with Iran.

There’s no question that Israel, its allies, and various hawkish groups have given up on any idea of derailing or opposing President Obama’s opening to Iran. Not because they like it, since they’re doing everything they can to isolate, contain, and sanction Tehran — but becasue there’s not much they can do to stop it. So, it’s clear to everyone now their tactic is to say, “OK, let’s have the talks. And we’ll give Iran a couple of months to cave in. Or else.”

Problem is, what else? Sanctions are not, repeat not, going to work, mostly because it’s not conceivable that the the United States can enlist the world in an onerous sanctions regime. (The current one is bad enough.) So once the talks are ended, and the sanctions route fails, the calls for war will escalate.

The latest suggestion that a fixed, and tight deadline — which has been widely reported in the Israeli press — is in today’s Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration and its European allies are setting a target of early October to determine whether engagement with Iran is making progress or should lead to sanctions, said senior officials briefed on the policy.

Reporters bugged the State Department briefer, Ian Kelly, on this today:

QUESTION: Back to Iran, there’s a press report this morning that the Administration is basically going to give Iran until like, the UN General Assembly in September to respond to the U.S. dialogue – an effort hasn’t started yet.

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: Does that coincide with your view on it?

MR. KELLY: Well, let me just say that we’re not setting any deadline. We’re not interested in setting any kind of specific or even notional timeline. We are, of course, monitoring very closely what the Iranians are doing, assessing progress. But it – we don’t have any timeline forward. What – you know, we’re not going to let this string out forever, of course, but we don’t have any timetable on it.

QUESTION: They were saying the same thing. They’re saying the same thing, that they are watching the U.S. Administration and waiting for signs of change in policy, so —

MR. KELLY: Well, there is a change in policy. I mean, we have – we’ve decided that we – we’re going to – we want to – we’re going to have a seat at the table, of the P-5+1 table. We’ve decided to engage. We’ve decided that the – our previous approach of isolating Iran didn’t work. And so we want to give engagement a chance.

QUESTION: Well, I just – back on the whole idea of the timeline, then. This was first reported in the Israeli press over the weekend, this whole October idea. You’re saying that that’s incorrect?

MR. KELLY: I’m saying that we do not have any timeline.

QUESTION: Does that mean that these reports are incorrect?

MR. KELLY: I’m saying that we’ve decided that we want to get Iran to come back to the table and engage with us at the – on the P-5+1 process.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. Does that mean that these reports are incorrect?

MR. KELLY: I – the information I have is that we have – that there is no timetable for Iran to come back to the —

QUESTION: Does that mean that these reports are incorrect?

MR. KELLY: I am not going to pass judgment on whether or not the reports are correct or incorrect. But the information I have is that there is no specific timeframe.

QUESTION: If these reports say that you’re setting an October deadline for Iran to respond and you’re saying that there is no deadline, it would seem to me only logical that you could say then that these reports are not correct.

MR. KELLY: Well, you know, as I said yesterday, I really don’t like to lie, I’ll just say. (Laughter.) Okay? And then we’re going to move on, okay?

QUESTION: Yesterday, you didn’t —

MR. KELLY: There is no deadline for talks, okay?

Got that? No deadline for talks. Amazing, isn’t it, that the hawks are pushing for a deadline on talks that haven’t even started yet. Yes, the P5 + 1 talks will resume, soon. But the real talks, the US-Iran dialogue that Obama wants, might not have even started by October.

Stay tuned.