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P5 + 1 Negotiations With Iran - June 26 Update

June 26, 2015

By Scott Flicker, Hamilton Loeb, Charles Patrizia, Behnam Dayanim & Suhas Subramanyam

Iranian Foreign Minister Complains of Slow Progress, Lack of P5+1 Coordination in Vienna

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and top negotiator Abbas Araghchi

) that talks in Vienna were a “slow and difficult process” that were hampered by a lack of coordination between the P5+1 countries on certain topics.  Speaking to an Iranian news agency, Araghchi noted that while “on the whole we are making headway,” he remained concerned about the pace of negotiations with the June 30 deadline approaching, though he admitted that talks could extend into July. He also bemoaned that the P5+1 nations each differed considerably in their approach to key topics, something he believed “may not be harmonized easily.”

When asked about Iran’s red lines, Araghchi reiterated Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s stance that military sites and nuclear scientists must be off-limits to inspectors.

Major Differences Remain in Talks

An anonymous P5+1 diplomat

about progress in negotiations by noting that all the difficult issues still needed to be resolved in the coming days. Unresolved issues include: Iran’s transparency, the timing and extent of inspections, possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, and the rollout of sanctions. An Iranian news agency also quoted an anonymous source stating that these remaining gaps in the agreements all involved “issues of substantial and essential divergence.” But an anonymous senior U.S. diplomat insisted that negotiators could see a clear path forward, though he admitted “the next few days will be extremely difficult” and “it’s not clear that Iran is ready to make the choices” necessary to strike a deal.

The Associate Press offered a

of the current state of negotiations and where each side stands. In short, the Lausanne Agreement established consensus on breakout time, Iran’s enrichment capability, preventing the development of weapons-grade plutonium, inspections of nuclear facilities, and the removal of sanctions.  But both sides still disagree on whether the U.N. can inspect military installations and question Iranian scientists, when and how sanctions will be lifted, the extent to which Iran can perform nuclear research, and how the P5+1 will snapback sanctions. Another contentious issue the article does not mention is whether Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Senators Introduce Bill to Extend Iran Sanctions

Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

that would extend existing Iran sanctions due to expire next year through 2026. Both suggested that the Obama administration should support the bill because it would make reapplying sanctions easier if Iran reneged on a final deal. Kirk and Menendez introduced a similar bill and tried without success to insert it into the National Defense Authorization Act. But the and other critics say the amendment only risks complicated ongoing negotiations as they reach the final stretch. Congress will be able to vote on any final agreement reached in Vienna, though to nix the deal it would likely need a two-thirds vote in each Chamber to override an inevitable veto by President Obama.