Pessimism creeping into Kerry comments about Iran deal

Will Iran do us all a favor and blow up the nuclear negotiations?

As the self-imposed Tuesday deadline for talks on the Iranian nuclear program approaches – a deadline that may slip again – remarks by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry are a little more pessimistic about the outcome of the negotiations than in recent days.

Politico:

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday sought to calm expectations of an imminent nuclear deal with Iran, saying the negotiations “could go either way” and warning that the U.S. is willing to abandon the talks if it encounters “absolute intransigence.”

Kerry made the comments in Vienna shortly after a series of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The men, along with negotiating representatives from five other nations, are struggling to meet a self-imposed Tuesday deadline to reach an agreement designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“We are not there yet. I emphasize that,” Kerry told reporters.

The secretary added that although significant progress had been made, some difficult choices remain, and that the United States would not agree to anything other than a good deal. “We’re not going to shave anywhere at the margins in order just to get an agreement,” he said.

Kerry’s statements followed the release Friday of a YouTube video by Zarif, who said the two sides were closer than ever to a deal. But, alluding to the U.S. and its partners, Zarif said they must choose between “agreement or coercion.”

Kerry didn’t point fingers at any one party and at one point noted, “Our Iranian counterparts have been working hard.” But his reference to America’s willingness to walk away if there’s “absolute intransigence, if there’s an unwillingness to move on the things that are important,” also suggested he was putting the onus on the Iranians to step up in the final days of talks.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have been trying to bridge differences with Iran on a range of issues, including the pace of sanctions relief for Iran and how much access U.N. inspectors will have to Iranian sites suspected of engaging in nuclear-related work.

The Iranians continue to insist that all sanctions be lifted immediately following a final agreement.  Kerry is trying to find a way to satisfy the Iranians without abandoning the U.S. position that the sanctions should be lifted over several years, in line with Iranian compliance with the deal.  The ministers are also unhappy with Iranian intransigence on the inspection of military sites.  Taken together, those two issues could blow up the talks and send Kerry home with a one-way ticket.

It appears at this stage that the Iranians have overplayed their hand and are demanding concessions that the Western powers simply cannot give them.  Will there be a climb-down by Iran at the last minute?  Will there be a total cave-in by the U.S. before the deadline?  With Iranian hardliners in control, don't expect much give in the Iranian position before tomorrow night.

Will Iran do us all a favor and blow up the nuclear negotiations?

As the self-imposed Tuesday deadline for talks on the Iranian nuclear program approaches – a deadline that may slip again – remarks by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry are a little more pessimistic about the outcome of the negotiations than in recent days.

Politico:

Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday sought to calm expectations of an imminent nuclear deal with Iran, saying the negotiations “could go either way” and warning that the U.S. is willing to abandon the talks if it encounters “absolute intransigence.”

Kerry made the comments in Vienna shortly after a series of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The men, along with negotiating representatives from five other nations, are struggling to meet a self-imposed Tuesday deadline to reach an agreement designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

“We are not there yet. I emphasize that,” Kerry told reporters.

The secretary added that although significant progress had been made, some difficult choices remain, and that the United States would not agree to anything other than a good deal. “We’re not going to shave anywhere at the margins in order just to get an agreement,” he said.

Kerry’s statements followed the release Friday of a YouTube video by Zarif, who said the two sides were closer than ever to a deal. But, alluding to the U.S. and its partners, Zarif said they must choose between “agreement or coercion.”

Kerry didn’t point fingers at any one party and at one point noted, “Our Iranian counterparts have been working hard.” But his reference to America’s willingness to walk away if there’s “absolute intransigence, if there’s an unwillingness to move on the things that are important,” also suggested he was putting the onus on the Iranians to step up in the final days of talks.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany have been trying to bridge differences with Iran on a range of issues, including the pace of sanctions relief for Iran and how much access U.N. inspectors will have to Iranian sites suspected of engaging in nuclear-related work.

The Iranians continue to insist that all sanctions be lifted immediately following a final agreement.  Kerry is trying to find a way to satisfy the Iranians without abandoning the U.S. position that the sanctions should be lifted over several years, in line with Iranian compliance with the deal.  The ministers are also unhappy with Iranian intransigence on the inspection of military sites.  Taken together, those two issues could blow up the talks and send Kerry home with a one-way ticket.

It appears at this stage that the Iranians have overplayed their hand and are demanding concessions that the Western powers simply cannot give them.  Will there be a climb-down by Iran at the last minute?  Will there be a total cave-in by the U.S. before the deadline?  With Iranian hardliners in control, don't expect much give in the Iranian position before tomorrow night.