(Washington, D.C.) — The countdown is underway. Negotiators have only until the end of June to complete a final nuclear deal with Iran. But with just days to go, it’s still unclear whether such a deal will happen, and — if it does — whether the deal could possibly be a good one.
A former senior military intelligence advisor to President Obama recently testified to a House Foreign Affairs Committee that the administration’s belief that a good deal with Iran is possible amounts to “wishful thinking.”
“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency until last August, devoted 20 paragraphs of his opening statement to a blow-by-blow attack on the framework deal with Tehran,” reported the UK Daily Mail.
The deal “suffers from severe deficiencies,” Flynn testified. “Iran has every intention to build a nuclear weapon” and “it is clear that the nuclear deal is not a permanent fix but merely a placeholder.’
Meanwhile, “Iran and six powers are still apart on all main elements of a nuclear deal with less than two weeks to go to their June 30 target date and will likely have to extend their negotiations,” reports the Associated Press, based on interviews with two diplomats. “Their comments enforce concerns that obstacles to a pact remain beyond the public debate on how far Iran must open its nuclear program to outside purview under any deal.”
Excerpts from the AP article:
- Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has for weeks rebuffed U.S. demands that U.N. nuclear monitors have access to military sites and nuclear scientists as they monitor Tehran’s commitments under a deal and probe allegations of past work on atomic arms.
- Negotiators are concerned about a lack of headway on all issues. Russian chief delegate Sergey Ryabkov said Friday the “the rate of progress … is progressively slowing down.”
- Negotiators have been meeting five days a week in Vienna over the past few weeks. The two diplomats are familiar with the progress of the talks and spoke shortly before a planned five-day round reconvened Wednesday. They demanded anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the confidential negotiations.
- Ways of implementing specific parts of the deal are supposed to be contained in four or five annexes to the main text of an agreement.
- The diplomats described the draft of a main document as a patchwork of text and dozens of blank spaces because of stubborn disagreement on up to 10 elements crucial to any deal. Those details are to be included in four or five annexes, which remain incomplete.
- Both sides remain publicly committed to June 30. Still, the diplomats said all nations at the table recognize that a delay up to July 9 is not a deal-breaker.
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