Secretary of State John Kerry quipped at a press availability in Paris today that he’s “glad that all the pundits and speculators are doubting whether or not” a nuclear deal with Iran “can be reached” by the Nov. 24 deadline.
Kerry is leaving Paris, where he met today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to head to Vienna for discussions with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
“They know more than I do,” he added of pundits and doubters.
There’s already talk of the administration extending the deadline for an agreement once again, and Kerry told reporters “I can’t tell you” when asked whether Iran would get another year of time.
“As I stand here tonight, I don’t have that answer and I’m not about to predict. I don’t believe it’s out of reach,” he said of a possible agreement. “But we have some tough issues to resolve, and I’m not going to prognosticate.”
“We need to continue to have some serious discussions, which we will, and we’ll see where we are. And I just think I’ll let the negotiation process speak for itself at this point in time. I don’t think anything is served by a lot of speculation at this point in time.”
Kerry said the U.S. and Russia “continue to work closely together on Iran, and this was a major topic of our conversation today.”
“Both of our countries are deeply invested in the P5+1 discussions together with our EU colleagues, and we are deeply committed to the diplomatic effort to try to reach an agreement that assures the international community of the fact that the Iranian nuclear program is exclusively peaceful,” Kerry continued. “As part of that effort, we have built a broad coalition of countries, including Russia and our P5+1 colleagues, in order to ensure that the international community is speaking with one voice on this.”
Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader with the final word over any deal with the U.S., has stepped up his scoffing at the notion of any agreement.
Two months ago, he tweeted that the negotiations simply served as “a valuable experience to learn that talks with US have absolutely no effect on reducing their hostility & are useless.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said today she was “aware of the Twitter activity of some officials in Iran.”
“There are a range of comments that have been made by Iranian officials. They have their own political audience, as we all know,” Psaki said. “Beyond that, I’m not going to speak to specifics of what’s going on behind the scenes, whether there – it’s on Twitter or not on Twitter or how consistent it is.”