Who has the upper hand in the Iranian nuclear talks?

Many deadlines have passed yet the Iran nuclear talks are ongoing

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

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Many deadlines have passed. Winter has come and gone and the summer is now at its peak. Administrations have changed and yet the Iran nuclear talks are ongoing. The skin of these talks is filled with stretch-marks, stretched to its maximum and ready to break under the pressure.

The last deadline for reaching the comprehensive accord - as it was agreed in Lausanne on April 2 - was June 30 but the talks were extended till July 7. All parties are finding it difficult to make the tough decision

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to the press on Sunday July 5: “At this point negotiations could go either way… If hard choices get made in the next couple of days and made quickly, we could get an agreement this week. But if they are not made, we will not.”

Hints of progress

Secretary Kerry’s short statement, plus Iran’s top negotiator Abbas Araghchi’s live interview with Iran State TV channel on Saturday about of his hope coming back to Iran successful, gives the hint of progress regardless of the apparent difficult issues.

It’s not clear what the difficult issues are which have been making progress slow. Some speculate that is related to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) remaining questions such as its request for military sites inspections and interviewing nuclear scientists. But an Iranian official told to a group of journalists off the record that all the issues related to the IAEA have been prepared for implementation.

Many deadlines have passed yet the Iran nuclear talks are ongoing

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

According to my sources, another issue which is under discussion is related to the arms embargo which the United Sates apparently doesn’t consider to be related to nuclear sanctions. A senior Iranian official mentioned the arms embargo subject as one of the important issues being hashed out in Vienna. Iran believes that the two subjects are linked.

If Iran and the Western powers strike the nuclear agreement by Thursday July 9, the United Nations Security Council will hold a meeting to pass a resolution lifting the sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program soon after that.

July 9 has been set by the U.S. Congress as a deadline to receive the possible nuclear agreement in order for it to be reviewed by within 30 days.

Iran may have hopes that during that month, the U.N. Security Council will lift sanctions along with the EU.

Aiming high

While this agreement is quite important for Iranians in many different ways, the negotiators like to aim high before the last deadline comes on July 9.

Behind closed doors, Iran and the U.S. are engaged in one of the most difficult negotiations since the revolution, however this time it’s far more formal.

Kerry reiterated Sunday that the United States remains willing to walk away if Iran doesn't budge on key points and a senior Iranian official also said that they do not see any definite deadline for their work in Vienna.

“Even with our understanding of the U.S. position, even if we pass July 9 is not the end of the world,” a senior Iranian official told reporters in Vienna on condition of anonymity.

Now it seems everything is up to the other members of the P5+1 which can act as a mediator in the run up to the deadline.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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