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Chief U.S. negotiator says Iran talks ‘the most complex negotiation I've ever seen’

July 29th, 2014
09:29 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Talks with Iran over its nuclear program are “the most complex negotiation I've ever seen,” Chief U.S. Negotiator Wendy Sherman told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Friday.

“The number of elements that have to be addressed – from enrichment capacity, to facilities, to research and development, to possible military dimensions, existing U.N. Security Council sanctions – I could go and on.”

“It is very complicated, very technical, many pages of annexes ultimately in any final agreement. So this takes a lot of work.”

Iran and world powers agreed, a little over a week ago, to extend negotiations four months in the hope that a permanent deal could be struck.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, told Amanpour that the talks are "a historic opportunity for all of us to end a rather prolonged chapter.”

“The point is whether it is possible to make a deal,” he said. “We're not talking about a bad deal or a good deal, but a doable deal. A lasting deal.”

Sherman praised all the negotiators, including Iran – and Zarif, who leads the delegation – as having been “very serious and very focused.”

Iran, she said, has “complied with every commitment” it made in an interim deal, struck last November, meant to lay the groundwork of a permanent agreement.

Even if a final deal is struck, she said, the United States would not immediately lift the severe economic constraints that have been placed upon Iran, which would in any case require the consent of congress.

“What we have said to Iran and what we've said publicly is that we would suspend sanctions, not lift them, because we need to see Iran implement whatever gets agreed to and comply with those agreements over a period of time.”

Members of Congress from both parties have been openly skeptical about President Obama’s negotiations push with Iran, and it remains an open question whether Congress would consent to lifting sanctions even if a permanent agreement were reached.

“What I said to my Iranian interlocutors is the quality of the agreement will make everything possible,” Sherman said.

“We didn't want sanctions during these negotiations; we won't want additional sanctions during an extension, if that gets agreed to, because we think we need to preserve this negotiating space in good faith.”

“But the Congress has an important role; clearly, any lifting of sanctions will have to be done by the Congress, and our sanctions and the European Union sanctions and the U.N. Security Council sanctions are interlinked.”

“Suspension [of sanctions] will indeed start down a road that will give Iran the benefits that it is looking for.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Latest Episode
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Iran Fail (@IranFail)

    Iranians have now gained another $2.8 billion in sanctions relief, have not dismantled anything, have not come clean on past activities, have not stopped advanced centrifuge research and have not halted their intercontinental ballistic missile program.So Iran will just muddle along and continue without any real incentive to do a deal and wait until the political winds in the West turn so that it can get the sanctions lifted and keep its refining capacity and give nothing away to the West. No one ever said the mullahs were dumb.

    July 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Reply
  2. Al Jojo Dadson

    Why has Tony Blair Middle East Envoy kept his silence on the current middle East crisis.

    It is indeed very strange to believe.

    July 31, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  3. RLTJ's

    Arabs see the need to bring their "defense" – war capabilities actually – at par with the Israelis. [whereas before defense means taking up arms and standing-ground, today "defense" can mean invading or striking a neighbor.]

    U.S. and Israel are not allowing that. Reality is, the only corridors open there to the Arabs are 1. subservience to western powers 2. Rebellion against, or living in subjugation by those powers.

    The world is nowhere from peace in there actually.

    August 2, 2014 at 10:48 pm | Reply
  4. RLTJ's

    And it must be tough. Chief U.S. Negotiator Wendy Sherman is working on them.

    August 2, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply

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