Deadline Officially Extended to July 13
P5+1 negotiators set July 13 as the new deadline to reach a final nuclear agreement with Iran. The European Council and U.S. Department of Treasury in turn extended the 2013 Joint Plan of Action freeze on certain Iran sanctions to July 13 as well. This is the third time in two weeks that negotiators have extended a deadline, though many expected an extension after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters yesterday he was in no rush to finalize an agreement.
The extension allows negotiators time to continue talks, which Kerry said were “very constructive” on Friday despite “a couple of very difficult issues” remaining. But British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond called negotiations “painfully slow” before he and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius left Vienna Friday evening. Both will return on Saturday, while Kerry and Iranian negotiators will remain in Vienna.
Iran Accuses P5+1 of Shifting Its Position
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the P5+1 of shifting its stance on key issues during negotiations this week. Zarif told Iranian state television that he has witnessed “a change of stances” and “excessive demands” from the P5+1 countries. A senior Iranian official echoed those sentiments, specifically singling out “certain changes in the U.S. position.”
Further seeking to shift blame, Zarif added that there were disagreements on some issues among the P5+1 nations, making it difficult to negotiate. Another senior Iranian official said it felt as if Iran was negotiating with several entities instead of one because of a lack of agreement within the P5+1 on certain positions. Zarif and other Iranian officials are likely referring to differences between the U.S. and Russia on whether to lift the U.N. arms embargo and missile sanctions on Iran as part of a final agreement.
Supreme Leader’s Advisor Denounces P5+1 Approach to Negotiations
Ali Akbar Velayati, chief adviser to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called the U.S.’s approach to negotiations “part of America’s psychological warfare against Iran.” Kerry and other Obama administration officials had told reporters yesterday that the U.S. would walk away from negotiations if “tough decisions don’t get made” by Iran.
Velayati, an influential voice in Iran and potential 2016 challenger to President Hassan Rouhani, also stressed that any nuclear agreement should adhere to Khamenei’s red lines
and garner the approval of Iran’s parliament.