Hazy Outlook for Iranian Nuclear Talks Deadline

Cassandra Mensinger

It appears as though the originally planned deadline of November 24 for Iranian nuclear talks will most likely be extended past that date. The talks are aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear power, and talks with global leaders have so far failed to make any progress. The goal is to form a comprehensive nuclear deal by late November, involving Iranian, U.S., and European diplomats. Because of the vast instability in the region (Syria, Yemen), the talks with Iran and the United Nations Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) have been difficult to resolve [1]. A recent meeting in Oman sought to continue talks to lift sanctions in return for further restrictions on Iran’s bomb-building capabilities. The U.S. has suspected that Tehran has a clandestine program, but Iran continues to deny this suspicion.

President Obama and his aides are still focusing on the November 24 deadline, though it is not certain whether or not any resolutions will come of these talks. With the recent elections and the GOP takeover in the Senate, it is becoming known that plans are set to impose further sanctions on Iran if a deal is not reached by the deadline. This action could greatly affect further diplomacy in the region, which President Obama has been advocating for in his administration. The GOP views the President’s current nuclear diplomacy plan as too weak toward Tehran, so there could be some shift in agenda as the new year begins and the Senate turns over [2]. Also voicing concern over the deadline are Israel and Saudi Arabia, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging the P5+1 bloc to not sign any agreement that doesn’t go far enough in blocking Iran’s nuclear capability. The talks themselves revolve mainly around the timeline of removing Western sanctions on Iran and specifically upon limiting Iran’s enrichment of uranium.

Obama officials believe a deal can be reached by the November 24 deadline, however other experts expect the deal to extend again into 2015. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) spoke up about bringing the Iran discussion to the forefront, adding that he hopes that sanctions will be a first priority for the new Senate in January under Sen. McConnell’s leadership [2]. The actual act up for negotiation is called the Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act, which was brought forth in July. The act requires an up or down vote from Congress, with an up vote signaling possibly more concessions to Iran than many in Congress approve of. A down vote wouldn’t void a pact with Iran, but would instead reinstate any sanctions previously suspended by the deal. Many believe that if the interim deal is extended, the Republicans are likely to threaten new sanctions against Iran should the agreement be breached or abandoned.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met earlier this week preluding the deadline to discuss their differences of opinion, and have yet to bridge any gaps. The two sides seem to have differing views of how the talks are going, with the U.S. thinking “there is still time” for progress, and the Iranian officials thinking there is “no progress” being made [3]. Iran continues to deny it is seeking power to build a bomb, while Western powers do not believe their claims that the nuclear program aims to produce atomic energy to reduce fossil fuel reliance. As the deadline approaches in two weeks, it remains unclear whether or not an agreement will be reached.