Washington Perspectives

P5+1 Negotiations with Iran - June 25 Update

June 25, 2015

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

“Strong Possibility” U.S. Congress will to Reject a “Bad Deal”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker warned that there was a “strong possibility” that Congress would block a final nuclear deal with Iran if it made too many concessions to Iran. Corker, who heads the Senate committee with jurisdiction over negotiations, also voiced his concern for the general direction in which negotiations were headed based on public comments made by Iranian officials and leaks from Vienna this week. In particularly, Corker insisted that Iran must reveal its past attempts to create a nuclear weapon for Congress to approve a final deal.  Secretary of State John Kerry, who has made contradictory statements on the issue, reportedly urged Iran’s foreign minister this week to agree to reveal Iran’s past arms-related nuclear research as part of a final deal in order to placate Republicans.

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives expressed their concerns as well, labelling the Obama administration’s negotiations and overall strategy in the Middle East “totally incoherent.” Even Obama’s former military advisers criticized the direction of negotiations, calling for inspections of military sites and the preparation of new sanctions if Iran reneges on a final deal .

If a deal is reached by July 9, Congress will have 30 days to approve or reject it. This comes days after Iran’s parliament passed a law banning foreign inspections of military sites and demanding the immediately lifting of sanctions.

Kerry Dismisses Khamenei’s Speech as Key Diplomats Join Negotiations in Vienna

Kerry told reporters today that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s comments this week were merely “for domestic political consumption.”  He explained that Khamenei’s speech would not guide or impact negotiations and that the U.S. would not negotiate with public statements. However, he admitted that “there will not be an agreement” if Khamenei’s comments, which contradict the framework for negotiations, actually represented Iran’s positions.  Kerry’s comments come on the same day his own agency released a report accusing Iran of several human rights abuses, including restrictions on civil liberties, cruel and inhumane punishment, political violence and gender and race discrimination.

Talks will pick up this weekend as Kerry arrives in Vienna) on Friday along with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. France Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will join talks along with the rest of the P5+1’s lead negotiators on Saturday.

Israel Continues to Express Distrust for Iran

Israeli continued to express opposition to negotiations as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told young pilots at an Air Force graduation that any agreement would be “fundamentally damaged” and help Iran develop a nuclear weapon.  Netanyahu told the audience that Israel would continue to defend itself from Iran and use aerial force, even if an agreement was reached, if it believed that Iran tried to develop nuclear arms. Israel has also suspended talks with the U.S. over defense aid at least until nuclear negotiations with Iran have ended. A poll released today found that 80% of Israelis disapprove of the Obama administration’s handling of negotiations with Iran.

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