The American team negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program has briefed Israel on the state of the talks, a senior US administration official told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend.
The briefing came shortly before ministers from six world powers settled on a moment of decision for whether to complete the historic nuclear agreement. That moment, Fabius said, came on Saturday night.
“Now that everything is on the table, the moment has come to decide,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters, exiting a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and before entering a plenary with diplomats from world powers.
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, serving as US President Barack Obama’s chief negotiator with Iran, spoke with Israeli National Security Adviser 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.
Kerry repeated that assessment on Saturday, writing on Twitter that negotiators “still have difficult issues to resolve.” He did not specify which issues remain sticking points.
Talks continued throughout their 15th day in Austria’s capital with few public statements.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond returned midday for meetings with Kerry and Fabius, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov engaged in the talks by phone.
Later in the day, Iran’s state-run press released photos of Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his staff sifting through stacks of paper, taking phone calls, and typing on laptops in the Palais Coburg, where the talks are being held.
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.
Jpost reporter in Vienna answers readers' questions on Iran talks
Negotiators from the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany now hope to complete the final agreement with Iran by Monday.Israel publicly opposes the deal in its current form
, and 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 will make for an inadequate inspections regime, and opposes Tehran receiving immediate sanctions relief.
And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long called for an agreement 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 less than 50 percent, he said.
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.