'Iran and US irritating each other with conflicting statements on nuclear deal'

Lead US negotiator to the Iran talks says parties understood their narratives on the framework deal were likely to be somewhat different.

April 7, 2015 16:00
1 minute read.
Iran nuclear talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pose for a photograph before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne March 16, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON - Iran and the United States have irritated each other with conflicting statements made about the nuclear framework agreement reached last week in Switzerland, the lead US negotiator said on Tuesday.

Wendy Sherman, US undersecretary of state for political affairs, was asked about the different interpretations of the deal intended to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

"I think we've each been irritated with each other in some of the things we've said," Sherman told MSNBC in an interview. "Even though we discussed this before we left - we understood that our narratives were likely to be somewhat different - but we pledged to try not to contradict each other."

One sticking point has been when sanctions against Iran would end: Iran has said it expected all to be suspended as soon as the agreement takes effect. The United States said they would be phased out gradually, depending on Tehran's compliance.

Despite the different narratives, Sherman said the countries are in broad agreement on the framework. She added, though, much work remains to be done to fill out details by a June 30 deadline.

Sherman has been deeply involved in talks with Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany to end a decade-old standoff over Iran's nuclear program, which the West fears could lead to a nuclear bomb. Iran has denied having nuclear weapons ambitions.

She described the talks as a roller-coaster with 11th-hour moments when the negotiations looked near collapse.

"During this last round in Lausanne there were several times I think on both sides where we said, 'Well, maybe we just can't get there.' Because this is a big puzzle. All the pieces have to fit together and if that last puzzle piece doesn't lock in, you don't have a deal."

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