The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Talks Alert, July 7

There and Back Again–Ministers and Vienna

After a slow weekend, talks picked up on Sunday night with the return of the ministers, but despite this uptick in momentum, will continue beyond the July 7 target date.

Today, EU foreign policy chief and P5+1 coordinator Federica Mohgerini announced in Vienna that  the parties are "continuing to negotiate for the next couple of days." State Department Spokeswomen Marie Harf said, "We’re frankly more concerned about the quality of the deal than we are about the clock, though we also know that difficult decisions won’t get any easier with time.” The November 2013 Joint Plan of Action will stay in place until July 10.

Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif remained in Vienna, while the other P5+1 ministers (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom) trickled back into Vienna between Sunday, July 5 and Monday July 6.

On Sunday, Kerry addressed the press outside of the Coburg Palace Hotel, where the negotiations are taking place. Kerry said he agreed with Zarif that the sides “have never been closer” to a deal, but said that “at this point, this negotiation could go either way. If hard choices get made in the next couple of days and made quickly, we could get an agreement this week. But if they are not made, we will not.”

Shortly after his remarks Mohgerini  arrived in Vienna and said that the negotiations are in the “last mile” and that the “issue is political decisions that needs to be taken now.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Iran needed to make decisions on transparency. Germany Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted that both sides would win if there is a deal, and lose without one.

When Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived at the Coburg on July 6, he said a deal is within reach, but decisions need to be made, particularly by Iran and the United States.

Weekend meetings included at least seven bilateral discussions between Kerry and Zarif. On Monday, Mogerhini and Zarif held a number of bilateral meetings with the ministers. A full meeting of the P5+1 ministers and Zarif also took place. 

—KELSEY DAVENPORT, director for nonproliferation policy, in Vienna

Quick Reference Links

The Nuclear Deal at a Glance Issue Brief: Under a Microscope
Experts Available for Interview Editorials Supporting a Deal
Archived Iran Nuclear Alerts Additional Resources

Iran Nuclear Review Act Timeline

The Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, which became law on May 22, lays out the schedule and required documentation for congressional action on a comprehensive nuclear deal.

When a deal is reached, the administration must provide Congress with the full text of the deal, supporting annexes, and provisions describing sanctions relief. With the deal, the Secretary of State must also provide a verification assessment, which includes a certification that Iran’s restricted nuclear activities under a deal cannot be used for nuclear weapons, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) can effectively verify the agreement. The president must also submit a certification that the deal meets U.S. nonproliferation objectives and does not jeopardize U.S. national security interests.

If the text of the agreement and supporting certifications are submitted to Congress by July 9, then Congress will have 30 calendar days to review the agreement. Congress can take three actions during that period, a vote on a resolution approving the deal, a vote on a resolution disapproving the deal, or no action.

After that period, if Congress votes to disapprove the deal, the president will have 12 days to veto the deal. Congress has an additional 10 days after that period to override the veto. An override requires a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. During the time period of review, the president cannot waive any additional congressional sanctions.

If an agreement is submitted between July 10 and September 7, the review period extends to 60 days. The 12-day veto period and 10-day period to override the veto remain the same.

When the time comes for Congress to vote, lawmakers must evaluate the deal on the merits. Does it block Iran's pathways to nuclear weapons? Does it rollback Iran's nuclear program? Does it put in place effective monitoring mechanisms to detect and deter a covert nuclear program? The deal being finalized, based on the April 2 Lausanne parameters, meets these criteria.

Responsible lawmakers must recognize that implementing this deal, one that verifiably limits Iran's nuclear program, is in the best interest of United States national security and Middle East security. Opposing a deal that meets core United States' objectives in the hope of a better one is naïve and dangerous.

Iran Nuclear Review Act Timeline

Issue Recap: UN Security Council Resolutions on Iran

Since 2006, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has adopted six resolutions as part of international efforts to address Iran’s nuclear program.

Prior to submitting the first report to the Security Council in March 2006 and requesting Security Council action on the Iranian nuclear question, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said Security Council action could "serve as a forum to find ways and means to bring back all the parties to the negotiating table." The IAEA referred Iran’s file to the UN Security Council over its report of Iran’s noncompliance.

None of the six resolutions call for Iran to dismantle its enrichment facilities or permanently halt enrichment.  All six also contain the same language promoting a diplomatic resolution to the concerns over Iran's nuclear program that respects Tehran's right to a peaceful nuclear program.

Iran has rejected the UN Security Council’s handling of the nuclear file and argues that its file should not have been referred to the Security Council in the first place.

Four of the resolutions include a series of progressively expansive sanctions on Iran and or Iranian persons and entities. The majority of the measures were imposed under Chapter XII of the charter, making them legally binding on UN member states.

A comprehensive nuclear deal will introduce a new resolution to codify the deal and lift key sanctions. The text of the resolution is still under discussion, as are questions related to the arms embargo, which was imposed as part of Resolution in 1929 in 2010. 

The following are excerpts from key provisions of the six resolutions (1696, 1737, 1747, 1803, 1835, 1929). For more detailed information, click here.

IAEA Team Visits Tehran, Again

According to a report published yesterday by Iran’s Press TV, IAEA discussed "ways to improve 'technical interaction' in line with the Islamic Republic’s red lines."

According to the report, a five-member IAEA delegation, which arrived in Tehran on Monday July 6, held intense and constructive negotiations with Iranian officials, said Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.

Kamalvandi said the IAEA team and Iranian officials reached an agreement which is “completely within the framework of national interests and security considerations and in accordance with the Islamic establishment’s red lines.”

Alison, Samore on the Flaws in NYTimes Iran Op-Ed

In a July 2, 2015 post on the Web site “Iran Matter,” Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Gary Samore, Director of Research at the Belfer Center, rebut the flawed assumptions and claims of a June 23 oped in The New York Times “The Iran Deal’s Fatal Flaw,” which they call "The winner of our prize of the week for confusing and clouding public debate on this critical issue."

Also see the June 26, 2015 letter-to-the-editor published by The New York Times,“Benefits of a Nuclear Deal With Iran,” critiquing the same op-ed.

Looking Ahead ...

July 9: Atlantic Council Event with Cliff Kupchan, Eurasia Group; Ken Katzman, Congressional Research Service; Kelsey Davenport, Arms Control Association; and John Limbert, US Naval Academy.

Location: Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. Time: 2:00-3:30pm. RSVP online.

July 10: Re-revised target date for concluding a final deal.

July 13: Iran Forum Event co-hosted by US Institute for Peace, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the RAND Corporation, the Arms Control Association, the Center for a New American Security, the Stimson Center, Partnership for a Secure America, and the Ploughshares Fund. Speakers include Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University; Ambassador James Dobbins, Senior Fellow and Distinguished Chair in Diplomacy and Security, RAND Corporation; Elizabeth Rosenberg, Senior Fellow and Director of the Energy, Economics and Security Program Center for a New American Security; Joe Cirincione President, Ploughshares Fund.

Location: United States Institute for Peace, Washington, D.C. Time: 9:30-11:00am. RSVP online.

July 16: Arms Control Association event on the outcome of the negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran and elements of a comprehensive nuclear deal. Speakers will include Richard Nephew, program director of Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets and former principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the U.S. State Department; Ilan Goldenberg, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security and Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy.

Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C. Time:9:30-11:30am. RSVP online.

July 21: Center for a New American Security forum on “Iran and the Future of the Regional and Economic Security Lanscape,” with keynote speaker Colin Kahl, National Security Advisor for the Vice-President, and other expert speakers.

Location: NYU Washington, DC, 1307 L Street NW. Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. RSVP online, or by contacting Axel Hellman at 202-695-8162.