VIENNA — The American team negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program has briefed Israel on the state in the talks, a senior US administration official told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, serving as US President Barack Obama’s chief negotiator with Iran, spoke with Israel’s National Security Advisor Yossi Cohen on Thursday.
The talks, now in their third straight week, were extended on Thursday evening after a concerted effort to complete a deal by that night. At the time, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that significant issues remained outstanding. But he said on Friday that several of those issues have been resolved.
Kerry did not specify which issues remain sticking points.
World powers seek to cap, restrict, monitor and partially roll back Iran’s nuclear program for a limited period in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran seeks to maximize that relief, and wants it delivered immediately.
Sherman last briefed Cohen when she first arrived in Vienna at the end of June. At the time, she and her negotiating team were working toward a deadline of June 30.
Since then, the talks have been extended three times. But the main text and annexes of a comprehensive nuclear accord are “97 percent complete,” Iranian delegates say.
Israel publicly opposes the deal in its current form, but has asked the Obama administration to take as much time as possible to make the deal “better.”
The Israeli government fears that opaque language in the text of a deal will make for an inadequate inspections regime, and opposes Tehran receiving immediate sanctions relief. And Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has long called for a deal that dismantles Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, as opposed to one that limits or contains it.
A senior Israeli official was quoted on Thursday characterizing the position of world powers negotiating with Iran as a “nearly complete collapse.” The official was “unimpressed” with Obama’s assessment that chances for completing a deal are under 50 percent, he told local press.
Sherman and Cohen tried to align their schedules several times over the course of the past two weeks, the senior US official told the Post. Sherman frequently briefs Cohen and his team on the effort.
Negotiators from the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany now hope to complete the final deal with Iran by July 13.