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US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Secretary of State John Kerry, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Lausanne, Switzerland, March 2015- Reuters

Clock ‘strikes midnight’ at Iran talks

by Laura Rozen – The Levant News — Vienna – Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday (July 9) that an Iran nuclear deal would require more work to be able to withstand the test of time, as negotiators from Iran and six world powers blew through a July 10 Congressional deadline after which they would have to submit a prospective deal to a 60 day Congressional review.

“We will not be rushed,” Kerry told journalists outside Vienna’s Coburg Palace July 9, after intense negotiations with members of the P5+1 (the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) as well as a one on one talks with the Iranian Foreign Minister.

“All we are focused on is the quality of the agreement,” Kerry said. “It has to be able to withstand the test of time.”

“Despite all the progress [made]….some tough issues remain to be resolved,” Kerry said. “But we are not going to get up from the negotiating table just because the clock strikes midnight,” Kerry said.

However, U.S. negotiators on Wednesday (July 8) withdrew their own, U.S. proposal on how to solve some unspecified, remaining issues in the talks, sources close to the talks, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor July 9. They interpreted the shifting US position as related to the White House deciding it would suit the job of selling the deal at home and to Congress if they took some more time.

In a sign that may please some members of Congress, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN Thursday that there had been a breakthrough in the talks and agreement is within reach, but it would not be finalized today, CNN reported July 9..

President Obama and his national security team on Wednesday (July 8) held a secure videoconference with Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and members of the US negotiating team in Vienna to review progress in the negotiations, the White House said. “The President reviewed the progress of negotiations to date, and provided guidance related to our ongoing efforts to achieve a good deal between the P5+1 and Iran that meets our requirements,” the White House said in a statement.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for his part, said he too would not be rushed.

“We’re working hard, but not rushed, to get the job done,” Zarif wrote on Twitter July 9 as Kerry was speaking to the press. “Mark my words; you can’t change horses in the middle of a stream. “

Even French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who has often expressed a somewhat more skeptical assessment of the Iran nuclear negotiations, offered cautious encouragement on Thursday.

There has been good progress, but there are still some difficult points, Fabius, speaking in French, told journalists outside the Coburg July 9. Comparing the Iran nuclear negotiations to a marathon, he said the talks were nearing the end, “and the last 100 meters are the most difficult.”

He said he would be staying the night and negotiators would continue working, and see where they were in the morning.

Source: Al-Monitor

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