The going has finally gotten tough enough to force the tough to get going – and they’re gone.
All of the foreign ministers from the P5+1 group of world powers left U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna late Tuesday to get whatever he can on a deal with Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with journalists in the Austrian capital to say the two sides are too far apart for a deal.
Nearly 10 issues still separate the delegation of six nations (Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany) led by the United States and Tehran.
Iran continues to insist on full, immediate sanctions relief but refuses to allow spot inspections and access for United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to its military nuclear sites.
The new deadline for conclusion of the talks – which is also “flexible” – is set for this Friday, July 10.
The team of American delegates left to negotiate in Vienna, meanwhile, told a small group of international reporters Tuesday they were “insulted” by implications the U.S. is “eager” for an agreement at any cost. The delegates have traveled to Austria 18 times over the past two years to negotiate this deal, they said.
“Quite frankly, when people say that we’re rushing to an agreement, I find it somewhat insulting,” said a senior U.S. official, “to me, to the team and to the secretary and to the president…. we have seen more of each other than our actual families.”
The official who spoke with reporters warned that once the team leaves Vienna this time, however, “we are in less control of what happens in this negotiation. It gets more complicated, not less complicated.”
If an agreement is initialed by July 10, Congress will have 30 days to review it.
But if it takes longer, then lawmakers will have 60 days to comb through the fine points and decide whether to give a green light or not.