The Obama administration repeatedly insisted over the course of the last three months that the June 30 deadline for reaching a nuclear deal with Iran was firm, before blowing past it Tuesday and minimizing the significance of failing to meet it.

The Washington-imposed deadline was always more important to U.S. officials than the Iranians, who started brushing it aside shortly after an April 2nd breakthrough on a framework agreement — that framework itself was reached two days past the original March 31 deadline for that phase of the talks.

By mid-April, Iranians officials were already beginning to suggest that the talks could extend beyond June.

"Iran will work hard to reach an agreement within the specified time of three months or even sooner, but if the deal would not meet the criteria the leader has introduced for a good deal, we would extend the time," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, one of Iran's negotiators, told Iranian state television, according to Mehr news agency.

In late May, Iranian officials began to openly blow off the deadline, with a senior Iranian envoy saying that the negotiations aren't bound by any "specific time."

"The deadline might be extended and the talks might continue after the June 30" deadline, senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi was quoted as saying by Iranian state TV May 27. "We are not bound to a specific time," he added. "We want a good deal that covers our demands."

And even U.S. partners, including France's ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, started predicting in late May that achieving a firm accord by June 30 is "very unlikely" because of a raft of unresolved technical issues.

Despite these early warning signs that Iran wasn't taking the deadline seriously, the White House and the State Department continued to keep up the June 30 drumbeat. They offered only a little wiggle room when the weeks started to fly by with little progress on the such critical components of the deal as sanctions relief timing, inspections of military sites and how quickly the sanctions would snap back if Iran failed to comply with its commitments.

Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman in mid-April told Israeli reporters on a conference calls that she expects to reach a good deal by June 30.

"Is it a perfect deal? No," she said. "There is no such thing as a perfect deal."

The State Department continued to stick by the deadline in late May.

"We're not contemplating an extension beyond June 30th," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke, told reporters May 27. "Again, we're united among the P5+1 partners in our efforts to reach a final deal by June."

In a June 1 briefing, State Department press secretary Marie Harf was even more adamant, stressing the need for tough deadline enforcement in order to force action on tough points.

"Deadlines are often action-enforcing mechanisms in negotiations," she said. "If you look at when the final toughest issues often get worked out … as we've seen before, it's often closer to the end because you have a deadline that's forcing action."

"We can't go on negotiating forever," she added. "We and our partners are united in working toward June 30th … I think people understand that this is a real deadline."

But by mid-June the administration has softened talk of the deadline, referring to it as "achievable" rather than hard and fast.

"We remain of the view that June 30th is achievable and that's our focus to reach a joint comprehensive plan of action," Rathke told reporters June 12.

As the days ticked down, however, White House press secretary Josh Earnest started to concede that while the deadline is firm, there are "short-term adjustments" that could happen to push the talks beyond June.

"We are sticking to the deadline. The deadline is June 30th," Earnest told reporters June 22. "At the same time, we've acknowledged that the previous deadline for the conclusion of the political negotiations was March 31 — nothing was announced until April 2nd."

"So the deadline is firm, but, you know, these kinds of short-term adjustments may be required in order to complete an agreement," he continued. "But at this point, you know, we continue to believe that — we're continuing to operate with the June 30th deadline."

By Monday, however, the White House was forced to put all pretense aside and admit that the negotiations would continue into July, downplaying the broken deadline as "not surprising" or "uncommon."

The new missed deadline, Earnest said, is not an indication that talks have reached a brick wall, but simply indicates there are still some "important unresolved issues."

"These are not issues that can be solved in the next 36 hours," he said, repeating that the U.S. is committed to ensuring that the talks produce the most "intrusive" inspections of any nuclear program in history.