A key European Union diplomatic coordinator suggested that envoys might need more than half a year to reach a final nuclear deal with Iran.
The figure, E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, discussed the possibility of a drawn-out diplomatic process in an interview on Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Her remarks came as some Iranian and Western government insiders expressed hope that negotiators would resolve years-old concerns over Iran’s atomic activities within the six-month duration of an interim accord that took effect on Jan. 20. Experts have said complications could arise from extending the initial pact, in which Tehran agreed to restrict some of its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief pledged by the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany.
“Everyone will say to you, and rightly so, this is extremely difficult,” said Ashton, who has communicated with Tehran on behalf of the “P-5+1” nations. “We have no guarantees in this and we will take the time that is necessary to get this to be the right agreement.”
Multilateral discussions on a comprehensive arrangement are scheduled to start on Feb. 18 in Vienna, Reuters quoted her as saying on Friday. Washington and its allies want a final plan to clear up international suspicions that Iran is pursuing a nuclear-weapons capability under the guise of a peaceful atomic program.
A number of Western government sources anonymously voiced skepticism that the sides could finalize such a deal by the middle of 2014, the Journal reported. According to some envoys, preparing a preliminary text as a foundation for the talks could be a months-long process in itself.
Iran’s top diplomat issued differing assessments of the possible duration of the discussions.
Speaking on Monday to the German Council on Foreign Relations, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that “with good will we can reach an agreement within six [months],” Reuters reported.
On Sunday, though, Zarif said “it would be foolish for us to only bargain for six months,” according to the news agency.
The Iranian foreign minister said he held one-on-one meetings with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other top officials from the six negotiating powers at the Munich Security Conference this past weekend.
- 1 Democrats Feel the Love as Americans Fret About National Security
- 2 Clinton’s Little-Known, Lifesaving Legislative Victory
- 3 Clinton Prepares Fast Push on Criminal Justice, Police Reform
- 4 California’s Scandal-Plagued House Race
- 5 The 1 Easy Way Donald Trump Could Have Been Even Richer: Doing Nothing
What We're Following See More »
If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."
"President Barack Obama has chosen Jackson Park, a lakefront park that once hosted the world’s fair on the city’s South Side, for his $500 million presidential library, according to a person familiar with the matter."
Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."
The Clintons will retain their Secret Service "code names from the last time they lived in the White House. Hillary Clinton is EVERGREEN and Bill ClintonEAGLE. Donald Trump is MOGUL, according to reports, and Melania Trump MUSE. The vice presidents get code names, too: Mike Pence is HOOSIER—a little on the nose—and his wife HUMMINGBIRD. Tim Kaine is DAREDEVIL, somewhat ambitiously. His wife's? To be determined."