The Coburg Palace in Vienna, where diplomats from Iran and world powers are meeting over a comprehensive nuclear agreement..
(photo credit: MICHAEL WILNER)
Despite the fact that little is known about what actually happens behind the closed doors of the Iran nuclear negotiations in Vienna, US officials are offering the public a glance into what negotiations actually look like up close.
Since 2014, approximately 17 negotiation attempts have taken place. These negotiations are such a frequent occurrence, that every single member of the US negotiation team has celebrated their birthday in Vienna, at least once, noted AFP. According to a senior US administration official, one team member "calculated he has traveled 400,000 miles (643,00 kilometers), roughly the distance of circumnavigating the earth 16 times."
AFP reports that keeping the peace during the negotiations themselves is sustained by using the strongest olive branch at their disposal: Junk food.
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According to calculations reported by AFP, the negotiation table has seen over 10 pounds of strawberry Twizzler sticks, 30 pounds of mixed nuts, 20 pounds of string cheese, and approximately 200 Rice Krispie treats. A team member's birthday was celebrated with three liters of ice cream-although their flavors remain undisclosed, and the number of espresso pods used in the coffee machine is said to be in the hundreds.
When the US negotiation team was asked who they thought should play them in a theoretical feature film entitled "Iran Talks: the Movie," (title subject to change), the team came up with a cornucopia of A-list actors that they felt would do justice to their characters, including celebrities such as Meryl Streep, Ted Danson, and Kirsten Dunst.
The candy business isn't the only one benefiting from these meetings. According to Reuters, the Brothel business, legal in Vienna, has been booming since the masses of diplomats, officials, security agents, analysts and reporters have flocked to town. According to their report, everyone has been in particularly good spirits, because unlike in Switzerland, which was host to previous negotiations, Vienna boasts "affordable short-term companionship." Rumors have even circulated that the Palais Coburg Hotel, a 19th century palace, and the home of talks since February 2014, has a network of underground tunnels connecting to brothels and other x-rated establishments.
When the teams aren't haggling over uranium centrifuges and the legal technicalities of UN inspections, they take their leisure activities just as seriously by enjoying cycling along the Danube River, having a splash in public pools, and being guests of the Austrian foreign minister's home for impromptu meals.
Iranian reporters also accepted the invitation to the diplomat's home, despite the fact that they were unable to enjoy the delicious Viennese pastries due to their fasts for the month of Ramadan. Interestingly enough, the said Iranian reporters found themselves rubbing shoulders with fellow Israeli journalists, however any aloofness or iciness between the two was quickly abandoned for the opportunity of a selfie with the foreign minister.
Fun facts aside, the US team is quick to note that although they work well together as a unit, they very much miss their families back stateside.
"Like any family, we don't always see eye-to-eye, but we stick together and we work incredibly well, which is why we have gotten as far as we have. People have come and gone on the team, but everyone shares the characteristics of professionalism, integrity, and selflessness that makes this really an incredible group," said a senior administration official.