Negotiators “Working Hard, But Not Rushed” as July 10 Deadline Approaches
Secretary of State John Kerry declared that negotiators “will not rush and we will not be rushed” to reach an agreement by the July 10 deadline. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed those sentiments, with Fabius adding that “things are…going in the right direction” and talks would continue overnight to resolve remaining issues.
But Kerry also noted that while negotiators had made progress this week, the U.S. would not “wait forever” and would walk away “if the tough decisions don’t get made.” Neither he nor the Obama administration would specify how much longer they would allow talks to continue except to dismiss the possibility of negotiations continuing for “many more weeks.” Western officials shot also denied a report by Iranian Press TV that negotiations could be extended to July 13.
Today marked the last day the Obama administration could submit an agreement to the U.S. Congress without giving Members more than 30 days to review its terms. Negotiators’ inability to reach a final deal today doubles the review period from 30 to 60 days. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Corker said he was “very happy” about the extension and pleased that negotiators were “not rushing to a place and taking shortcuts on remaining issues.” The Obama administration said it was not concerned about the extended review period.
Deal “Around 96 Percent Complete” with Three Key Issues Remaining
Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi believes that the main text and five technical annexes of the final agreement were "around 96 percent complete." The major issues that remain include: (1) lifting missile sanctions and the U.N. arms embargo; (2) Iran’s research and development on advanced centrifuges; and (3) U.N. inspectors’ access to Iranian military sites.
The lifting of arms sanctions remains the most controversial issue, though negotiators have made significant progress on the other two issues. U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi met on Wednesday to discuss the parameters of Iran’s nuclear research and development under a final agreement. And U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Yukiya Amano met with Iranian officials last week and eventually came to a “better understanding on some ways forward” to resolve the issue of inspecting nuclear scientists and military sites. Negotiators have settled other disputes critical to reaching a final deal, like the pace and timing of sanctions.
Russia Publicly Supports Lifting Arms Embargo
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called for the rest of the P5+1 to lift missile sanctions and the U.N. arms embargo as part of a final nuclear agreement. This is the first time Russia has publicly supported lifting the restrictions and comes on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met to discuss nuclear talks and Middle East policy. Lavrov’s comments also contradict a report yesterday that Russia had agreed not to break ranks with other P5+1 countries.
Though Lavrov refused to discuss details, a source in Vienna
told Russian News Agency TASS that “compromise on this matter is still possible.” The source indicated that the arms embargo would remain anywhere from 2 to 8 years before being lifted, with both sides currently negotiating the length of that time frame. Diplomats have also discussed temporarily suspending the embargo at an earlier stage and then later lifting it completely once Iran has complied with certain benchmarks.