Tehran and Washington each said the other capital had to give up more if the sides are to defuse a global nuclear standoff, Reuters reports.
Senior officials from both governments admonished members of the opposing camp on Friday, after several days of multilateral talks over fears that Iran may tap its ostensibly nonmilitary nuclear program to build bombs. The Middle Eastern nation has tentatively offered to curb some of its atomic efforts in exchange for potential sanctions relief by the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged negotiators from the “P-5+1” countries to “abandon excessive demands which will not be accepted by Iran.”
“There has been progress, but major disputes remain” over language in a draft nuclear deal. “There are more brackets than words in it,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying.
Separately, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said it was unclear whether “Iran is really ready and willing to take all the necessary steps to assure the world that its nuclear program is and will remain exclusively peaceful.”
A high-level U.S. insider added, “There are very, very difficult decisions to be taken here by Iran,” Reuters reported.
Zarif, though, said, “The United States must take the most difficult decisions,” al-Monitor reported on Friday.
“[President Obama] and Congress … have to save themselves from the conditions they have created,” Zarif said. He added that Washington has met its commitment under a short-term agreement to lift restrictions on $4.2 billion in Iranian funds, RIA Novosti reported.
Meanwhile, a U.N. agency on Friday said Iran has moved to eliminate most of the uranium it could most easily convert into bomb material, Reuters reported.
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President Obama has said he’ll nominate John King to fill out the last few months of Obama’s presidency as Secretary of Education. King has been in an acting secretary role since Arne Duncan stepped down in December. The White House is pressuring the Senate to act quickly on the nomination.
Bernie Sanders supporters aren’t taking this whole superdelegate thing lying down. Despite a tie a blowout win against Hillary Clinton, Sanders trails her by some 350 delegates in the overall count, thanks mostly to superdelegates pledging to support her. His backers have taken to creating a MoveOn.org petition to pressure the superdelegates to be flexible. It reads: “Commit to honoring the voters—let everyone know that you won’t allow your vote to defeat our votes. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters—not party elites.” So far it’s attracted 162,000 signatures.
House Speaker Paul Ryan today is trying to convince his large but divided conference that they need to pass a budget under regular order. “Conservatives are revolting against higher top-line spending levels negotiated last fall by President Obama and Ryan’s predecessor, then-Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). GOP centrists are digging in on the other side, pledging to kill any budget that deviates from the two-year, bipartisan budget deal.” Ryan’s three options are to lower the budget numbers to appease the Freedom Caucus, “deem” a budget and move on to the appropriations process, or “preserve Obama-Boehner levels, but seek savings elsewhere.”
“A bill headed for President Barack Obama this week includes a provision that would ban U.S. imports of fish caught by slaves in Southeast Asia, gold mined by children in Africa and garments sewn by abused women in Bangladesh, closing a loophole in an 85-year-old tariff law.” The Senate approved the bill, which would also ban Internet taxes and overhaul trade laws, by a vote of 75-20. It now goes to President Obama.
Bernie Sanders has closed to within seven points of Hillary Clinton in a new Morning Consult survey. Clinton leads 46%-39%. Consistent with the New Hampshire voting results, Clinton does best with retirees, while Sanders leads by 20 percentage points among those under 30. On the Republican side, Donald Trump is far ahead with 44% support. Trailing by a huge margin are Ted Cruz (17%), Ben Carson (10%) and Marco Rubio (10%).