11.25.14

The Hill: Democrat: 'Serious Doubts' that Iran is Willing to Deal

Kristina Wong of The Hill reports on the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program:

A second missed deadline “casts serious doubts” on whether Iran is seeking to strike a deal with world powers to dismantle its nuclear program, a senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the announcement Monday that no deal had been reached with Iran came as "little surprise,” but he said the lack of progress in the talks is troubling.  

“The failure to arrive at even a framework for a final agreement casts serious doubts on whether Iran is ready to make the kind of concessions necessary to end its international isolation and join the community of nations," he said in a statement.

Schiff said on two of the most "significant issues" — eliminating or dramatically reducing Iran's enrichment capability and deciding the pace of sanctions relief —"little or no advance appears to have been made." 

"It is unclear what step forward has been made that suggests a final agreement is attainable," Schiff said. 

Schiff said it also appeared that Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei's objective is to get maximum sanctions relief while giving up as little of Iran's nuclear program as possible. 

He said the new interim agreement extending the talks until the spring preserves the status quo, except that Iran is getting an additional $700 million in sanctions relief each month, while making no new concessions. Previously, the sanctions were eased after Iran agreed to blend down its nuclear stockpile.

"That should have been [the] model for any further extension, but this appears not to be the case," he said.

The Nov. 24 deadline in the talks came after lawmakers recessed last week for the Thanksgiving holiday. Schiff pledged to grill Secretary of State John Kerry and administration officials about why they believe an extension was appropriate. 

"At a certain point we may have to acknowledge that Iran is simply unwilling to negotiate away its nuclear program," Schiff said.

"If that point is now, or seven months from now, it will be critically important for the imposition and cohesion of new sanctions that the other nations in the P5+1 know that the United States made every effort to succeed in a negotiated resolution.”

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By:  Kristina Wong
Source: The Hill