Iran talks won’t make dead­line

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Paul Richter paul. richter@ latimes. com

VI­ENNA — The f inal round of in­ter­na­tional ne­go­ti­a­tions over a nu­clear deal with Iran won’t f in­ish by Tues­day’s dead­line, diplo­mats ac­knowl­edged Sun­day af­ter week­end con­sul­ta­tions.

Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif, who met U. S. Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry in Vi­enna four times over the week­end, was f ly­ing to Tehran on Sun­day night to talk to se­nior of­fi­cials in his gov­ern­ment, with plans to re­turn to the Aus­trian cap­i­tal on Tues­day.

For­eign Min­is­ters Lau­rent Fabius of France and Frank- Wal­ter Stein­meier of Ger­many also made plans to leave af­ter short vis­its to the 19th cen­tury palace in Vi­enna where the talks are tak­ing place.

The Rus­sian and Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ters haven’t ar­rived yet, in­stead send­ing deputies to rep­re­sent them in the open­ing round of talks.

A se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said the ne­go­tia­tors have made some progress and in­sisted that the de­par­tures are not a bad sign. “If peo­ple need to go back to their cap­i­tals for con­sul­ta­tions with their lead­er­ships, that’s a good thing,” said the of­fi­cial, who was not au­tho­rized to speak on the record.

Though progress has been made on some is­sues, sev­eral of the prin­ci­pal ones re­main un­re­solved, the of­fi­cial said, adding that diplo­mats would prob­a­bly “stay a few days be­yond the dead­line.” The of­fi­cial ruled out the idea of ex­tend­ing the talks by sev­eral months, an ap­proach that ne­go­tia­tors have taken in the past.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials also pre­dicted that the dead­line would not be met.

Tues­day’s dead­line was self- im­posed. The ne­go­tia­tors face a more con­se­quen­tial dead­line in about a week be­cause of leg­is­la­tion that gives Congress time to re­view any deal with Iran be­fore the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion can im­ple­ment it.

The leg­is­la­tion re­quires that the ad­min­is­tra­tion de­liver the text of the deal plus all sup­port­ing doc­u­ments to Congress by July 10, which would trig­ger a 30- day re­view pe­riod. Of­fi­cials have said they would need a few days to pre­pare the docu- ments for re­view. If the ad­min­is­tra­tion misses the de­liv­ery date, the re­view pe­riod would stretch to 60 days to take into ac­count Congress’ re­cess in Au­gust, de­lay­ing any deal into the fall.

Both the Ira­ni­ans and the ad­min­is­tra­tion and its al­lies would pre­fer to avoid that added re­view time for fear that de­lays could strengthen crit­ics’ ef­forts to block an agree­ment.

Iran, the United States and f ive other coun­tries — Bri­tain, France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and China — are seek­ing a deal that would lift in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions on Iran if it agrees to lim­its on its nu­clear pro­gram in­tended to pre­vent it from ob­tain­ing a weapon.

Diplo­mats have gen­er­ally pre­dicted that a deal will be reached, though they have said more tough com­pro­mises re­main nec­es­sary.

Fed­er­ica Mogherini, the Euro­pean Union’s for­eign pol­icy chief, said a deal could be reached in a few days, but ac­knowl­edged that the group would need to over­come se­ri­ous dif­fer­ences.

An agree­ment would be “tough but not im­pos­si­ble,” she said.

Ira­nian of­fi­cials said Zarif ’ s trip home had been planned for some time. He has gen­er­ally avoided short trips to Tehran dur­ing high­level ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The seven coun­tries reached a pre­lim­i­nary agree­ment in April in Lausanne, Switzer­land, and ap­peared headed to com­plete their bar­gain­ing. But there have been signs that the two sides may have moved apart on some is­sues since April.

Ira­nian supreme leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei last week laid out a se­ries of tough ne­go­ti­at­ing re­quire­ments that ap­peared to build new pres­sure on ne­go­tia­tors. He said Iran wouldn’t al­low in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors ac­cess to Ira­nian mil­i­tary bases as part of their ef­fort to mon­i­tor the coun­try’s nu­clear ac­tiv­i­ties, for ex­am­ple, and would not per­mit in­ter­views of Ira­nian sci­en­tists.

In Is­rael, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu ac­cused the six pow­ers of cav­ing in to pres­sure to close the deal. There has been a “clear with­drawal from the red lines set by the pow­ers for them­selves,” he said. “This bad agree­ment is get­ting worse by the day.”

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