Thursday 23 November 2017

US patience for Iran nuke deal won't last forever, warns Kerry

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during the 7th BRICS summit in Uf
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes Iran's President Hassan Rouhani during the 7th BRICS summit in Uf

Paula Beringer in Washington

PRESIDENT Obama will bring the American negotiating team back from Vienna if talks over Iran's nuclear programme, which have already been extended several times beyond successive self-imposed deadlines, do not appear to be constructive, a White House spokesman said last night.

"The fact that we've been very clear about our expectations for a final agreement makes it unlikely that the talks will drag on for many more weeks. But, again, I wouldn't speculate on the outcome," said spokesman Josh Earnest.

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry signalled that diplomats won't conclude an Iran nuclear agreement by early today. "We're here because we believe we are making real progress," Mr Kerry said. "We will not rush and we will not be rushed."

However, he also cautioned that Washington's patience was not unlimited. "We can't wait forever," he said. "If the tough decisions don't get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process."

He did not say how much longer the negotiations could continue. Shortly after Mr Kerry spoke, the White House said the talks would not likely drag on for "many more weeks."

Over the past two weeks, Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China have twice extended deadlines for completing a long-term deal under which Tehran would curb nuclear activities for more than a decade in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr Kerry's announcement echoed earlier remarks by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said Iran and major powers would not be hurried. "We're working hard, but not rushed to get the job done," he said.

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the parties would continue negotiating overnight to try to resolve the "difficult issues" that remained in nuclear talks. He added that "things are ... going in the right direction."

Negotiators have given themselves until today. But if a deal is not reached by 6am local time in Vienna, the sceptical Republican-led US Congress will have 60 days rather than 30 days to review it, extra time the administration of President Obama worries could create new chances to derail it.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said it was possible there would be an agreement in the coming hours. A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Russian leader hoped for compromises that would enable an agreement soon.

A deal would depend on Iran accepting curbs on its nuclear programme in return for the easing of economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations, US and European Union.

Irish Independent

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