Where are the negotiators?
After returning to Vienna for the first time since March 7th to resume negotiations, negotiators are back in their respective capitals with no agreement reached.
Recent comments from negotiators:
Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairs to Iranian President Raisi
U.S. Special Envoy for Iran
“What the European Union has said — and they are the coordinator — is that they believe that negotiations over this text have exhausted their usefulness and don’t see the — they don’t see that they can be improved through continued talks. We’re considering the text very carefully to make sure that it lives up to the president’s very clear guidance that he would only sign up to deal that is consistent with U.S. national security interests.”
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
“Negotiators used these days of discussions and proximity talks between the US and Iran to fine tune and address – with technical adjustments – a handful of issues remaining in the text that I have put on the table last July 21, as coordinator of the JCPOA nuclear deal. What can be negotiated has been negotiated, and it’s now in a final text. However, behind every technical issue and every paragraph lies a political decision that needs to be taken in the capitals. If these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal.”
U.S. Special Envoy for Iran
On a deadline for talks: “There’s no date on the calendar after which it’s not going to be possible. But, as I said, every day makes it less likely. And so we’re already in a very diminishing — the window is already closing quite rapidly. It’s still possible. We’re not going to put a date on the calendar. But, at some point, I think it will become obvious to everyone that this deal is no longer available.”
What are the known outstanding issues?
With the United States firmly rejecting Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list, Iran has shifted to an alternative request external to the JCPOA, demanding that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) drop its investigation of traces of nuclear material found at undeclared Iranian facilities. Iran’s latest response to the EU draft agreement reportedly only included the demand that the US will stick to a deal beyond 2024.
What are key concessions the U.S. has already agreed to?
JINSA estimated Iran’s nuclear breakout time would be 4.8-6.5 months until early 2026 under a new deal, at which point the JCPOA permits Iran to steadily shrink these timeframes further.
The U.S. is prepared to rescind human rights and terrorism penalties – sanctions relief not required by the JCPOA – on key pillars of the Iranian regime, including the Supreme Leader and other top officials, as well as the Central Bank, National Development Fund and national oil and tanker companies.
Recent Statements from U.S. Officials
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chair
“I thought it was a bad deal [in 2015], it can only be a worse deal now… The Iranians have already developed two-thirds of what I believe they need for a bomb. One is the missiles to carry a bomb to its destination, two is the right amount of fissile material. They’re on the brink of doing that, according to public reports.”
Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Senate Armed Services Committee Member
Sen. James Risch (R-ID)
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Ranking Member
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Member