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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Kerry on Iran Talks: 'We Will Not Wait Forever'

by Mary Alice Salinas July 09, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that if difficult decisions are not made in the Iran nuclear discussions, negotiators are ready to "end this process."

"We will not rush and we will not be rushed" into reaching an agreement, Kerry told reporters in Vienna. He indicated that "real progress" is being made toward a comprehensive deal, and that the quality of any deal is the main concern.

"If in the end we are able to reach an agreement, it has to be one that will withstand the test of time," Kerry said. "It is not a test of a matter of days or weeks or months. It's a test for decades. That's our goal here."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he is prepared to stay at the negotiating table in Vienna "as long as necessary" to clinch a deal with world powers on Tehran's contested nuclear program.

White House comments

The White House echoed Kerry's comments, saying President Barack Obama would bring back from Vienna the U.S. negotiating team if talks do not appear to be constructive.

"The fact that we've been very clear about our expectations for a final agreement makes it unlikely that the talks will drag on for many more weeks. But, again, I wouldn't speculate on the outcome," spokesman Josh Earnest said.

High-level discussions

Earlier, Kerry held discussions with several of his counterparts, including by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, about the ongoing negotiations.

Lavrov had told reporters in Ufa, Russia, where he is attending an economic summit, that Moscow favors Iran's push to lift a U.N. arms embargo.

"We are advocating for lifting of the arms embargo as soon as possible," he said.

A U.S. official close to the talks, however, told VOA, “No one is talking about lifting the arms embargo until years and years from now – if ever.”

Western officials have said they oppose ending the embargo, arguing that the parameters of a framework adopted in Lausanne, Switzerland in April call for important restrictions on conventional arms and ballistic missiles to be included in a new United Nations resolution to be drafted as part of a final agreement.

Lavrov said he plans to return to Vienna from Russia, where he and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to attend the summit of so-called BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).​

US Congress

Negotiators gave themselves until Friday to reach a deal. Since one was not reached by 6 a.m. local time in Vienna, the Republican-led U.S. Congress will now have 60 days rather than 30 days to review it; extra time the Obama administration worries could create new chances to derail it.

Republican Bob Corker, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Thursday he does not see the continuation of Iran nuclear talks as a problem for lawmakers.

"I'm very happy that we're not rushing to a place and taking shortcuts on the remaining issues that are left. That is to me a very good thing," Senator Corker told reporters shortly after Kerry's announcement.

Regarding a possible deal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat, told VOA Thursday, “I am less optimistic than I was a week ago.

"It seems the Iranians are having a very hard time getting to ‘yes,’ but the administration has made it clear over and over that they are not going to accept a bad deal," Murphy said. "And if the president is ready to walk away from the table – if the Iranians don’t move on these last few remaining issues – I think that is comforting to his supporters and even his detractors here on Capitol Hill."

Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who also is a candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign, told VOA, "This Iranian nuclear deal goes from bad to worse to catastrophic.

"At this point, the Obama administration seems simply to be pursuing domestic political objectives and dramatically undermining the national security of this country. This deal only accelerates Iran acquiring nuclear weapons," Cruz added.

Western countries accuse Iran of seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons, while Iran has long insisted its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes, such as medical research and generating power.

Heather Murdock, Mike Bowman and Brian Allen contributed to this report.

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