The United States, its international partners, and Iran are continuing to negotiate a comprehensive final deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The June 30th deadline has come and gone, but all sides remain committed to reaching a final deal.
The current interim agreement, which has frozen and scaled back Iran’s nuclear program during the negotiations, is set to expire after July 13th. US officials have already indicated that the agreement will be extended if a deal is not reached by midnight.
In a statement last week from Vienna, Sec. Kerry reaffirmed that the United States is making progress, but also willing to walk away if no good deal appears attainable:
“We believe we are making real progress toward a comprehensive deal. But as I have said many times, we are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever.”
Sen. Coons, during a CNN interview yesterday, provided context for why an effective deal is so important:
“And this is the moment when we’ve got a chance at resolving it diplomatically. If we don’t, it will pose a real threat to our troops in the region and to our allies in the region.”
According to reports out of Vienna, most of the technical issues, including the timing of sanctions relief, the restrictions on Iran’s enrichment capabilities, and the schedule for completing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s investigation of Iran’s past nuclear program, have been resolved.
Point of contention: a request to lift the current United Nations conventional weapons embargo on Iran.
Iran is requesting that the UN repeal their import and export embargo for conventional weapons, fearing that an embargo not removed as part of this agreement may never be lifted. This issue has been further complicated by Russia and China’s support for the initiative, which would lead to lucrative arms contracts for their defense industries. The P5+1 will need to find a unified position on this matter in order to move forward.
Discussions on this issue, and other aspects of Iran’s nuclear research and development capabilities, are ongoing.
If a deal is reached, Congress will have 60 days to review the deal and pass either a resolution of approval or disapproval.
Stay tuned for more as we continue to follow these negotiations.