Senior U.S. Official: Deal With Iran Hard to Reach by Deadline
U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said that he thinks negotiators will have a hard time reaching a nuclear deal with Iran by their self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline, further lowering expectations of what will come out of the talks. "Right now, I think it’s going to be difficult to get to where we want ...
U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said that he thinks negotiators will have a hard time reaching a nuclear deal with Iran by their self-imposed Nov. 24 deadline, further lowering expectations of what will come out of the talks.
"Right now, I think it’s going to be difficult to get to where we want to go. It’s not impossible," Blinken, President Barack Obama’s nominee for deputy secretary of State, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
"It depends entirely on whether Iran is willing to take the steps it must take to convince us, to convince our partners, that its program would be for entirely peaceful purposes," he added. "As we speak, we’re not there."
Blinken’s comments echo those made earlier in the day by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who said nonetheless there might be enough progress to extend the deadline again. Talks were extended to Nov. 24 in July, after a July 20 deadline for a deal passed.
"I’m not optimistic that we can get everything done by Monday," Hammond said in the Latvian capital, Riga, according to the Guardian. "But I think if we make some significant movement we may be able to find a way of extending the deadline to allow us to get to the final deal if we’re making good progress in the right direction."
The U.K., along with the United States, France, Germany, and Russia are at the negotiating table with Iran.
Blinken’s comments add to reports Wednesday that the sides were less optimistic than just a few weeks ago about the prospect of reaching a final agreement. Talks between Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the lead American negotiator, Wendy Sherman, kicked off Tuesday in Vienna.
Secretary of State John Kerry was in London Wednesday meeting with Oman’s foreign minister, Yusuf bin Alawi, a figure who has emerged as a key intermediary between the "P5+1" nations and Iran. Kerry next heads to Paris, where, according to the Associated Press, he will decide whether to join the talks in Austria.
Also during the hearing, scheduled to consider Blinken’s deputy secretary of State nomination, he offered more details about the Authorization for Use of Military Force Obama will propose. Congress must approve military interventions, permission known as Authorization of Use of Military Force, or an "AUMF." Obama deployed troops to Iraq under an AUMF passed in 2002, but after losing the Senate to Republicans on Election Day, said he will seek new authorization from Congress specific to the Islamic State.
"We would like a targeted, focused AUMF that deals with the task before us, which is defeating ISIL," Blinken said, using an alternate name for the Islamic State.
Blinken was responding to a question from Chairman Robert Menendez. The New Jersey Democrat suggested authorizing military action against the Islamic State for three years and prohibiting large combat operations involving U.S. troops.