Kerry Announces Extension of Nuke Talks That Is “Not Open-Ended,” But Doesn’t Give Deadline

In a brief statement today in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the nuclear negotiations with Iran will be extended once again, though they are “not open-ended” and that the United States was “absolutely prepared to call an end to this process.”

The Times of Israel reported:

“Some tough issues remain unresolved,” Kerry said, adding that “we will not rush and we will not be rushed.”

Kerry did not specify an end date during his brief statement to reporters outside of the Vienna hotel where the negotiations are taking place, but stated that the negotiations were “not open-ended.” He said that the president had made that “very clear to me last night.”

“If the tough decisions don’t get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process,” the secretary of state said.

In the announcement, Kerry said that the United States was looking for a deal “that can last the test of time. Not days, not weeks, but decades.”

Kerry’s announcement comes a day after he and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s chief negotiator and foreign minister, were reported shouting at each other.

Kerry’s refusal to term the extension “open-ended” comes a few days after The Wall Street Journal reported (Google link) that the administration was considering another extension of the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action, instead of reaching a comprehensive agreement, breaking off negotiations, or considering alternatives such as military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The Journal described this option as the administration choosing “an open-ended diplomatic process.”

While Kerry gave no indication of how long the talks were extended, Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency tweeted that the negotiations would go on for another four days.

By failing to arrive at an agreement by Wednesday, negotiators over Iran’s illicit nuclear program missed a fifth deadline. This announcement came after Iran reportedly added a new demand that the West lift a UN weapons embargo on Iran. Though they are often ignored, United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit Iran from importing or exporting many types of weapons systems.

The latest extension also means that negotiators have missed the July 9 cutoff for a 30 day Congressional review of the deal. If a deal is completed between now and September 7, Congress according to the terms of the Corker-Menendez bill, which passed both houses of Congress overwhelmingly, will have 60 days to review the deal.

[Photo: NBC News ]