JERUSALEM (JTA) – Nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers are expected to end with a provisional agreement, though a U.S. State Department official attempted to lower expectations.
Unnamed diplomats told the Associated Press on Sunday that final details were being worked out and that an official announcement of the deal would come on Monday. The seven countries involved in the talks will then have to approve the deal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday morning on his way to church services in Vienna that “a few tough things” remain to be settled but that he was “hopeful” after a meeting the previous day with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday, “I hope that we are finally entering the last phase of this negotiation.”
A deal would exchange sanctions relief for guarantees that Iran is not advancing toward a nuclear weapon.
But in the hours after reports that a deal was imminent, an unnamed senior State Department official in attempting to tamp down expectations told the Washington Post, “We have never speculated about the timing of anything during these negotiations, and we’re certainly not going to start now – especially given the fact that major issues remain to be resolved in these talks.”
The Post also cited an Iranian official in Vienna as saying it was “too optimistic” to predict a deal could be completed by the end of the day Sunday, saying it will take hours to review the paperwork.
Israel objects to the emerging deal being worked out in the Austrian capital, saying its terms will leave Iran a nuclear threshold state and increase its ability to disrupt the region.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning blasted “the parade of concessions to Iran” in the deal, “even on issues that had been marked as red lines in the Lausanne package, which is a bad deal in its own right.” He was referring to the preliminary accord reached in Switzerland.
Netanyahu referred to Al-Quds Day marches on Friday in Iran, including one led by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani where U.S. and Israeli flags were burned and the crowd chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Al-Quds Day expresses solidarity with the Palestinian people and denounces Israel’s existence.
“Iran does not hide its intention to continue its murderous aggression even against those with whom it is negotiating,” the Israeli leader said. “Perhaps there is someone among the great powers who is prepared to capitulate to this reality that Iran is dictating, which includes its unending calls for the destruction of Israel. We will not pay the price for this.”