Just hours ahead of deadline, reports claim possible extension; Officials in talks express both optimism and claim progress, some worried permanent deal my collapse ahead of June deadline
Reports Tuesday evening claim that there may be an additional deadline given to negotiations with Iran with world powers on its nuclear program. Reports have been minimum in the past two days, officials asking the press for privacy.
Six days of negotiations have been ongoing in this last round of talks held in Switzerland between the P5+1 foreign ministers, senior officials and diplomats. Russia announced that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has returned Tuesday to negotiations, Lavrov stating, “The prospects of this round of talks are not bad, even good I would say.”
His return made all foreign ministers present in talks.
The United States delegation stated that “no decisions have been made about our travel schedule” just hours before midnight on the March 31st deadline. A senior US State Department official stated that “Our team is evaluating where we are throughout the day and making decisions about the best path forward. We will of course keep working if we are continuing to make progress, including into tomorrow if it’s useful to do so.” And a White House Spokesman stated, “If we have made progress toward the finish line, then we should keep going.”
A Western diplomat was quoted Tuesday evening stating, “We need to get this done now. We only have a few hours left to get a framework agreement or the job is going to become much, much more difficult.” A second diplomat stated, “With Congress, the Iranian hawks and a Middle East situation where nobody’s exactly getting on, I’m not convinced we’ll get a second chance if this fails. If we don’t have some type of framework agreement now, it will be difficult to explain why we would be able to have one by June 30.”
While several officials and sources expressed optimism and progress in negotiations, several addressed a possible failure to reach a permanent deal by June.
Earlier on Tuesday, reports from officials in talks claimed that a general statement would be released agreeing that significant progress has been made in negotiations and that continued negotiations in a “new phase” will begin, and that a comprehensive accord is to be reached by the final deadline for the implementation of a permanent nuclear deal by the end of June.
Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to Iran as the greatest threat to the State of Israel, again warning that any deal with Iran will “pave the way to a Iranian nuclear bomb”, stating, “It appears the deal being formed in Lausanne will leave Iran with underground facilities, the nuclear reactor in Arak and with advanced centrifuges. In our estimation, (the time to creation of a nuclear weapon) will be reduced to under a year and perhaps far less than that. The greatest threat to our security and our future was and remains Iran’s attempt to be armed with nuclear weapons…We will do everything to protect our security and our future.”