U.S. and Iranian foreign ministers have concluded three continuous days of talks over the proliferation of Iran’s nuclear program. This comes just one day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress and spoke at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Netanyahu has been opposed to the deal being negotiated between the U.S. and Iran, saying it will only lead to the nation obtaining the bomb.
While in the pristine, lakeside village of Montreux, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, deliberated for over 10 hours with hopes to finalize a diplomatic deal by the end of March. According to a senior U.S. State Department official, Kerry and Zarif made good progress, but both have many tough challenges in front of them to come to terms with an agreement. Moreover, he said there will not be any kind of deal to announce today, but he believes the U.S. and the Iranians will reorganize bilaterally, with the European Union present at the deliberation on March 15. Although an official location has yet to be confirmed, it will most likely be in Geneva.
Unfortunately, for the United States, Netanyahu’s controversial speech to Congress yesterday, where he bitterly condemned U.S. diplomatic attempts to resolve the current nuclear disagreement, could possibly hinder the Obama Administration’s ability to approve a potential agreement back home. Netanyahu was invited to talk at Congress by Speaker John Boehner (R).
According to the State Department, U.S. diplomatic negotiator Wendy Sherman will brief Israeli diplomats soon on the discussions. Furthermore, Kerry will come together with the foreign ministers of France, Britain, and Germany in Paris on Saturday to come to an agreement on what Western nations should do to halt Iran’s nuclear proliferation.
Netanyahu argued if the U.S. and its Western coalition strike a deal with Iran, rather than preventing them from obtaining nuclear arms, a deal would, “all but guarantee,” that the nation will one day have a weapon of mass destruction, putting Israel and U.S. interests in the area at risk. President Barack Obama responded just hours later, stating that Netanyahu did not present any alternative ideas to the current progression of negotiations.
Iran and the most influential world powers are attempting to settle on a deal that can be implemented by the end of March, despite controversial statements from Netanyahu and Israel, stagnant U.S. congressional Republicans, and Western-minded Gulf Arab nations. Officials stated such an accord would be followed by an inclusive agreement to be finalized by the end of June. The objective of the negotiations is to convince Iran to restrain its nuclear program in exchange for the loosening of Western sanctions that have severely hurt their economy in regards to its oil exportation.
The United States and its allies, particularity Israel, are suspicious of Iran for using its domestic energy-driven nuclear program as a façade to develop and manufacture an atomic bomb. Although Iranian officials deny these allegations, saying their proliferation is for peaceful purposes, such as generating electricity, Western nations are still watching Iran in case their suspicions become hard evidence.
By Alex Lemieux
Photo by U.S. Embassy Vienna – Flickr License