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Diplomacy in Action

Background Briefing on P5+1 Negotiations


Special Briefing
Senior U.S. Administration Officials
Vienna, Austria
July 12, 2014

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MODERATOR: Hello. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Vienna. Thank you for you flexibility today and for coming tonight. First, to start with ground rules. This is all on background as Senior U.S. Administration Officials. Most of you are familiar with our team up here. [Senior U.S. Administration Official One] will give some opening remarks and then we’ll open it up for questions. We have a bunch of folks up here who can answer them, including, I think most of you know [Senior U.S. Administration Official Two], and has been doing these talks for a long time as well, so – but all of that will be on background. No matter who it is, Senior Administration Officials. Please keep us honest on this.

So in a moment I’ll turn it over to [Senior U.S. Administration Official One] and then [Senior U.S. Administration Official One] will give some brief opening remarks and then we’ll do questions. When we do Q&A, please, even though we know most of you, identify yourself and your outlet so we make sure we all know who you are. So, with that.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Okay. Thank you. Thank you all for being here this evening and welcome to today’s backgrounder.

It’s been a very busy 10 days since we arrived in Vienna. We all have to stop and remember what day of the week it is. They’ve all sort of blended together, so I know for all of you, it’s been a difficult 10 days as well, because we try to keep it fairly buttoned up, so appreciate your patience.

We’ve had a mix of plenary sessions, expert meetings, bilaterals with all of the other countries here, and of course with Iran, and coordination sessions that are led by the High Representative of the European Union Catherine Ashton, who coordinates and leads these talks. Today, I want to say a few words about what we expect from Secretary Kerry’s visit here tomorrow and about what’s happened in the talks during this round, and then of course, I and my colleagues would be happy to take your questions.

The Secretary is coming to Vienna for consultations with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, EU High Representative Ashton, and other foreign ministers from the P5+1, whose schedules allowed them to be here at this time. He will talk with them about where the negotiations currently stand. He obviously will meet with Foreign Minister Zarif and assess Iran’s willingness to make the critical choices it will need to make if we have a chance of getting a comprehensive agreement. And he will see if progress can be made on the issues where significant gaps do remain.

He will then make recommendations to President Obama about next steps in the negotiation. You all have probably noticed there isn’t a whole lot of time left until July 20th, and this is clearly a critical time in these talks. So in many ways, you could consider this a check-in point by the ministers and all of the delegations, even those who cannot bring ministers here because of scheduling conflicts – the BRICS conference is about to start at the beginning of next week – are sending high-level representatives to add to their delegations.

A few additional points: We remain very united in the P5+1. Everybody has their national positions, of course, but when it comes to having one negotiating position for going forward, we have stayed quite united. The sessions that will take place tomorrow are not meant to be a formal ministerial. There will not be a formal plenary session, but rather, a chance for people to check in with their teams on the ground and with each other. As I noted, the Russians and Chinese both have important business to attend to in Brazil this week at the BRIC summit, which complicated their efforts to come, but are sending senior diplomats to Vienna for these meetings as well. So while I know it’s easy to write a story that the P5+1 is in danger of not being united, it’s simply not true.

Second, in terms of what has happened thus far in this round, we’ve made some progress. But on some key issues, Iran has not moved from their – from our perspective – unworkable and inadequate positions that would not in fact assure us that their program is exclusively peaceful, which, as I’ve said to you many times, we have two objectives: that Iran not acquire a nuclear weapon and that they assure the international community that their program is exclusively peaceful. And so far, on some key issues, Iran has yet to be able to take the decisions that are necessary to meet those objectives.

All you had to do is listen this week to the public comments coming from some in Iran’s leadership to see that we are still very far apart on some issues, and obviously, on enrichment capacity. The numbers we’ve seen them putting out publicly go far beyond their current program, and we’ve been clear that in order to get an agreement, that their current program would have to be significantly reduced. So this is one of the gaps, although, of course, not the only one that remains, but a key and core one.

And finally, as we said the other day, it’s worth remembering that this is not a negotiating – a negotiation between two equal parties. It’s certainly a negotiation among sovereign nations and we respect the sovereignty of every country. This is not, however, a mediation. This is the international community assessing whether Iran can come in line with its numerous nonproliferation obligations, to which it has been in violation for years.

To conclude, and then I’ll be happy to take your questions, we do believe there is a way forward here. What the Secretary and all of us will be doing over the coming days is to determine what that path might look like and how we can give all of us the best chance of solving this problem diplomatically, which is what President Obama hopes that all will be able to achieve.

With that, let’s move to your questions.

MODERATOR: Great. And again, and when I call on you, please identify yourself and your outlet.

Yes, go ahead.

QUESTION: Amir Paivar, BBC Persian. We were told that what the Iranian leadership says in public is something you are not focusing on as much as what you hear in the negotiation room. Are you being told the same numbers you referred to in the negotiation room as well?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: What I think I’ll say to that is there is no question that we have heard about Iran’s aspirations for its nuclear program in very specific terms and very specific numbers. And that remains far from a significant reduction in their current program.

MODERATOR: Yes. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Ali Arouzi, NBC News. You say the Secretary’s coming here to gauge Iran’s willingness. Isn’t it getting a bit late in the day to gauge Iran’s willingness? And secondly, you said Iran has to make some very tough choices. The Iranian delegation has consistently said also that the United States needs to make some tough choices. Do you agree with that, and if so, what are the tough choices you have to make?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think that the United States has already made a number of very tough choices, and I think that’s evident in the Joint Plan of Action that was negotiated among the P5+1. In that, the President of the United States took, I think, a very bold decision to say that we would be open to discussing a very limited enrichment program to meet the practical needs of Iran.

He also agreed that we could sit down and negotiate a Joint Plan of Action, that we would make some limited sanctions relief available to Iran and some of their frozen assets in bank accounts around the world if they would take very concrete steps. Iran chose to take those very concrete steps, and we followed through in what our obligations were.

So I think the good news of the JPOA, it shows that in fact we can each take difficult decisions to try to reach an agreement. Now we’re talking about a comprehensive agreement and we’re talking about the very heart of Iran showing the international community, not just with its words, because of course we have the Supreme Leader’s fatwa and saying that Iran has never had an interest in having a nuclear weapon. Now we have to have concrete actions that are verifiable.

I think that everyone at the table has come with ideas. We have presented a number of proposals, concepts, ways forward, that we think are very thoughtful and acknowledge the tremendous scientific knowhow that Iran has, but at the same time really does mean that Iran must address the international community’s concerns. We’re talking about a decade of violations of obligations under the NPT, such that the UN Security Council has passed four resolutions and required international sanctions that have been imposed by the international community. So that’s really what’s at stake here.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: And I would just add that it is certainly late in the day in these negotiations, but it’s not too late for Iran to take the steps that are necessary to give the international community confidence.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Good point.

MODERATOR: Go ahead, Lou.

QUESTION: Thanks. Lou Charbonneau, Reuters. I wanted to maybe first follow up on the comment that [Senior U.S. Administration Official Two] just made. And so if it’s not – there are only a few days left until July 20th, and here we’ve heard how large the differences are. Is one of the issues that will be discussed a possible extension of the talks? And, I mean, how workable is this? It does seem that some in Congress – we had a story yesterday that it seems like it would probably go through. And then the Brits have released a statement saying that Gaza will be discussed tomorrow, the situation there. And so I don’t know if maybe you could say a word or two on that.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: So let me say a couple things and then Senior Official sitting to my right here might want to add something.

The ministers are not coming here to discuss an extension. The ministers are coming here, as we said in the statement about Secretary Kerry’s coming, to assess the situation, to see whether more substantive progress can be made while they are here, to see that in fact we get done everything we can possibly get done. If, at the end of that process, we have not come to a final agreement, then we will assess where we are and the Secretary will make recommendations to the President about next steps.

We have always said that if we can make some significant progress, that if we thought we needed some additional time, we thought the world would probably want us to take it, and to get to a final agreement. But what the ministers are coming here to do is to assess whether, in fact, we have made and are making and will make, in the eight days remaining, enough progress that it warrants, indeed, us continuing that work if we cannot get to a final agreement. And as you’ve noted, it’s difficult to do – not impossible, but it is difficult to do.

In terms of the issue on Gaza, these are foreign ministers. Whenever they show up anywhere, they discuss whatever is happening in the news and in the day. But they are coming here very focused on this negotiation. None of them are going to be here for a long, long time, so their first priority is going to be to see what they can do to move this negotiation forward and to make substantive progress. I would be very surprised if foreign ministers, wherever they show up, wouldn’t talk about the issues of the day.

QUESTION: A quick follow-up on that, if I may?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, and then --

QUESTION: For – just what you said about --

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: So are you planning to work down to the wire, up to the 20th and now --

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: We have always said we would work till the last moment. We have always said so. I don’t know whether [Senior U.S. Administration Official Two] wants to add something, particularly about Congress, because some of us have lived here in Vienna now for 10 days. Some people got to go home for a few days, but that person did spend some time chatting with members of Congress, so you might want to add something.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: I would just add two points. First, as we’ve made clear, the Secretary, Secretary Kerry, is focused on determining whether a comprehensive agreement can be reached in the next few days, and that’s going to be his focus when he’s here.

Now if that can’t happen by July 20th, both the Administration and Congress are on the same page, which is that we obviously have to consider all of our options. But we – it would be hard to contemplate things like an extension without seeing significant progress on key issues. And that’s what we’re going to be looking for here over the next few days. We’re going to be trying to get to a comprehensive agreement and then we’ll think about everything else as we go forward. And in that, I think Congress and the Administration are approaching this with the same perspective.

On Gaza, the one point I’d like to underscore is that Iran has a longstanding record of supplying weapons, rockets to various terrorist groups in Gaza, including Hamas; that those rockets are being used to fire at civilian areas; and that Iran has a responsibility to cease and desist from continuing to supply weapons of war that are fueling this conflict. And any opportunity that we get to communicate that message to them, we will take.

MODERATOR: Yes, George. Go ahead.

QUESTION: It’s kind of a – George Jahn, Associated Press. It’s kind of a peripheral issue, this whole issue of unity, but it pops up every so often, and Mr. Ryabkov today spoke to some Russian media and said, basically, our national interests trump unity. And they do have national interests with Iran that are quite strong and they’re trying to develop them even further. Why would he choose to make this comment at this point? Thank you.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: You’ll have to ask Mr. Ryabkov – (laughter) --

QUESTION: He’s --

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: -- why he – and he’ll be back here, I think, sometime tomorrow, I believe. But – he’s here already?

QUESTION: Yes, he’s already here.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Excellent, so then you – excellent. He was trying to get back sooner. He was in Brazil himself getting ready for the BRIC meeting, so I’m glad to hear he’s back. He’s a good colleague.

QUESTION: I have a follow-up question (inaudible).

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: But – so --

MODERATOR: Do you have any more you’d like to say?

QUESTION: Is that it?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: What I would say is you’ll have to ask the Russians why they said what they said. All I can tell you is that we all have national interests; of course we do. But we have all been completely unified in the objective of this negotiation and the key issues that need to be pursued.

MODERATOR: Yes. David Sanger.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Please introduce yourself.

QUESTION: I’m David Sanger from The New York Times. The statement that you made earlier about the public statements that have been made by Iranian officials, I assume you were referring to the Supreme Leader’s comments a few days ago. What they seem to reflect was a fundamental argument by the Iranians that they still need to be able to move to industrial production; if not right away, then I think in this – in the talk, he said five years from now or sometime after that.

As you look at the fundamental differences right now – not the numbers, but the fundamental differences – is there still a view among the Iranians that industrial production is their key goal? And is it still your view that only, as you said, a very limited enrichment capability for a long period of time is your key goal?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Absolutely, our key goal is a very limited enrichment program. As you know, we believe that what would be best is no indigenous enrichment program at all, but if there is to be one, then it should be limited for a very long duration of time. And the United States is on record worldwide, believing that no one should have an industrial-scale enrichment program, that it’s not necessary, that fuel is available on the open market. You all know that we negotiate 123 agreements all over the world about what people’s programs – nuclear programs are going to look like, their civil-nuclear program, how they’re going to provide fuel for those programs.

QUESTION: But we have one in the United States.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Huh?

QUESTION: We have one in the United States.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Indeed we do, but we are one of the original NPT states, so for non-nuclear weapons NPT states, we have worked worldwide to really limit those who have indigenous enrichment.

Now the reality is that, as well, as you know, President Obama has been a leader in the world to decrease the number of nuclear weapons in the world, including our own, and hopes that sometime in the future – maybe not in my lifetime, I hope in the President’s lifetime – that in fact, we have no nuclear weapons.

So I don’t – I think where we are, David, in this negotiation, is we believe that right now, we are at a place where Iran is in violation of its NPT obligations and its obligations to the UN Security Council. For some period of time, they’re going to have to have a very limited, very constrained program that will have inspections, verification, monitoring, and a lot of limitations on what they can do. At the end of that duration, they will be, like any other non-weapons – nuclear non-weapons NPT state and will make their own choices.

QUESTION: When you said a limited period of time, how long a period of time?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yes.

QUESTION: Can you measure this in years, decades? What’s your concept?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: We’ve said always double digits, a long time.

MODERATOR: Great. The gentleman from Bloomberg on the far right, the non-Indira Bloomberg reporter. I know that’s a good title to have.

QUESTION: I’m happy to be called a gentleman, thank you. (Laughter.) And thank you, Mr. Sanger, because my question fits into that. Mr. Lavrov is going to a country tomorrow where Russia has announced it will be negotiating nuclear deals. Now the country he’ll be visiting tomorrow developed a indigenous enrichment program by military junta in secret using a technology, gaseous diffusion, that had exclusively been used for bombs. And that country, which is Argentina, announced 10 days ago that it was going to implement an industrial-scale 20,000 (inaudible) program.

So I know you don’t answer questions directly, but I would like to ask you, what can Iran, and the P5+1, for that matter, learn from the Argentine instance?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, look, every situation is sui generis to some extent, and there is a long history to where Argentina is today. What I would say is that we are looking at this instance and this particular situation where Iran has been outside of its obligations to the NPT and the UN Security Council for over a decade. And I think, quite wisely, Iran came to the negotiating table wanting to re-enter the international community, to meet its obligations, to become a normal nuclear non-weapons NPT state. It’s going to take them some time to get there. There are a number of things they need to do to be able to get there. But there is a path for them to do so, and quite frankly, to have a very modern, civil nuclear program that meets the needs of their people within constraints that will give the international community assurance that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon and that their program is exclusively peaceful.

Should they choose to do that, and I hope that they do because I think it’s in the interests of their own country to do so, though they will define those interests – not me, as they tell me all the time – if they do so, then I think the return for the country economically, politically, domestically, and in the world is quite substantial.

MODERATOR: Laurence Norman from The Wall Street Journal. I’ll introduce you.

QUESTION: Thanks, hi. Two – a couple of questions if I may. First of all, just a detail of how long people are going to be here for. You said they’re not coming for very long. Can we take from that that Mr. Kerry will be leaving on Monday definitely, or is that still in play?

And secondly, there’s a lot of focus on the enrichment issue, but you said at the beginning that there are some issues that have made some progress. I know you don’t know – I certainly know you’re not going to sit here and list them off for us, but can you give us a sense of whether you feel that those other issues are really – that we all know are really beginning to come together to take shape could be turned into a deal?

And just finally, you said double digits before. Just for the sake of a clean quote, can we say that the U.S. position is asking for at least 10 years as a duration of this accord?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: I think it’d be better to leave it just to double digits, even though I take your point. Trying to get a number is a good thing, but I’m not going to give you one.

Second, in terms of the Secretary’s schedule, those of you who have had the pleasure of traveling with the Secretary of State, for me to try to predict his schedule would be an insane feat on my part. I don’t think that, had you asked me in the beginning of the week whether the Secretary of State was going to be in Kabul today, I would have said yes. So if you ask me if he’s going to leave here – come here tomorrow and leave here tomorrow, I can’t tell you a thing.

All I can tell you is that the ministers are coming here for a check-in. They are not coming here to be the negotiators, to work text. They are here to see if they can help move substantial progress on the areas in which there are some serious gaps. And I think you all understand well enough, in a negotiation, that when parties know ministers are showing up, they’re going to wait to see what can be accomplished. And we hope that something can be further accomplished, because as [Senior U.S. Administration Official Two] pointed out, we need to see some additional progress in this.

As to areas in where there has been progress, there has been some. There are areas in which the gaps have narrowed so that one can see if everything else fell in place, that that would probably fall in place. Remember we’ve talked about this Rubik’s Cube concept 100 times here. You can have every piece fall in place and that last one won’t go into the tumbler until everything else is in place. So one can see that there are places where there’s progress and you might get that final step taken if something else falls into place as well. It’s a negotiation.

QUESTION: Can I just follow that up (inaudible)?

MODERATOR: Yeah.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.

QUESTION: Are they significant areas? Are these other areas where there’s been progress, are they significant keys?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: They can become significant areas once other pieces fall into place.

MODERATOR: Great. Laura Rozen.

QUESTION: Laura Rozen from Al-Monitor. Thank you for doing this. You all have had the chance to be in the room with the Iranians when they do show flexibility or there has been progress after weeks and weeks or – I’m sure of arguing over differences. Can you just give us a sense, not on the specific substance necessarily, but how do you see movement with them? Things that were intractable in conversations two weeks ago, how might it move? Because many of us are trying to wonder on these big things, because we understand both your positions very well, how might they move, or you might move? Thank you.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, look, when we came in here, we did not have a text. We have a text that we are working off of. There are brackets that remain in that text. But nonetheless, it has made some progress moving forward. Some of the brackets have been taken out. I think Baroness Ashton and her deputy Helga Schmid have worked constantly, very difficult. The Iranians are very good negotiators. Their English is quite good and we – as you all know, this is done in English and words mean a great deal. My lawyers tell me that every single day as we look over this.

So this is a process of discussion, but also of coming up with ideas, ways that one might get from here to there. Sorry I’m not giving you a whole lot, but doing the best I can.

QUESTION: Can I ask one follow-up?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Yeah.

QUESTION: Because so much of what they’re arguing for in terms of industrial-scale enrichment and not having to be dependent on a foreign power to provide fuel for their power program at some point is a pride – I mean, kind of. And I noticed you using language today talking about their technological achievements. Are there ways that, recognizing their research potential or right, would be able to compensate them for a longer delay in this thing that’s very important to them?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Right. We’ll see. As I said, there are a number of ideas that are on the table, a number of ways forward. We’ve also talked in this room that this is a package; this is not about any one element. All the pieces have to come together to reach the objectives of making sure they can’t acquire a nuclear weapon and that their program is exclusively peaceful. I think that what we are talking about here is how you get from where we are today to normal, and that’s going to be a long duration of time because of past history, under a lot of constraints, but there will come a point, if Iran does make these choices, where they will be free to be like any other non-nuclear NPT state, non-nuclear weapons NPT state.

MODERATOR: Okay, let’s see, who haven’t I – Michael Wilner. Who haven’t I gone to yet?

QUESTION: Yes. Hi. Michael Wilner with The Jerusalem Post. My question is on the role of Congress, and I know I’ve asked you this before, but they don’t seem entirely thrilled with what they’ve gotten. No surprise there. They sent this week a letter; 344 members of Congress signed onto it. And what they said was that there is no such thing as nuclear-related sanctions that are designated in the laws that they’ve passed. Now, your colleague, Catherine Ashton, has said that her mandate is to negotiate specifically on only nuclear-related issues and that that doesn’t include ballistic missile issues or technology, it doesn’t include certainly terrorism-related matters. Do you agree with her on that and do you read the law differently? Is your understanding that the U.S. does demarcate nuclear-related sanctions?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: What we have said to Iran and what was discussed in the Joint Plan of Action where we promised, working within our system which has checks and balances, that we would not – we would work with our Congress so that there would be no new nuclear-related sanctions, and we make a distinction between nuclear-related sanctions and sanctions on human rights, sanctions on terrorism, and they – those will all stay in place.

We are in consultations with Congress. Congress has played a very critical role in this negotiation. I do not believe that Iran would be at the table except for the leadership that Congress has shown on their concerns for these issues and for the sanctions that were passed in addition to the very critical UN Security Council resolutions which passed international sanctions, and the European Union’s actions, and individual countries’ actions around sanctions. I think Congress plays in that regard a critical and leadership role, and we see them as very important partners.

Both the letter from the House and the letter from the Senate really talk about wanting to ensure that partnership continues, that Congress will play an active role in anything that comes out of these negotiations, and we would absolutely agree that they will.

You want to add?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL TWO: Yeah, I would just add that I think we agree with Congress that sanctions are not an end in themselves; they’re a means to an end. And many of the sanctions that Congress has passed in partnership and consultation with the Administration have been designed to help produce progress at the negotiating table. We believe the Joint Plan of Action was the result of the strategy we developed. We believe that progress in these talks can be connected to that as well.

To say that there is not one single sanction that can be lifted in the context of a nuclear agreement, of course, is not a plausible position. Equally true to say that all sanctions get lifted in the context of a nuclear agreement is not plausible because there are, as my colleague said, terrorism and human rights-related sanctions that are quite specifically targeted at other behavior of Iran.

So ultimately, this is going to be a negotiation within these talks, and then consultation with Congress to determine what are effectively nuclear-related sanctions and what are not. And we believe that we can find a way forward on that that works for everybody.

MODERATOR: Yes, Paul Richter, the L.A. Times.

QUESTION: Hi. If the Secretary determines that Iran is not willing to go ahead, is that the moment when you begin discussing an extension, or does his determination mean the show has ended and there’s no purpose in further discussions?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, as I said, Paul, I think we’ve made some progress, and I think that we hope that the ministers being here will build on that progress, and that we can keep moving forward toward that comprehensive agreement. And as I said, it’s not impossible to complete it by the end of these eight days – difficult. But we certainly want to make substantial progress such that we can make an assessment about the best way forward from there.

I don’t want to prejudge what the Secretary will think or say or what he will recommend to the President of the United States. So this is the check-in. He will have direct discussions with Baroness Ashton. He will have direct discussions with his ministerial partners in the P5+1, with the senior diplomats who are coming here from Russia and China, and with Minister Zarif. And then he will assess where we are and give those of us who are here to continue negotiations – and I would include my colleagues who are sitting up here as well – as I think most of you know, Deputy Burns has returned here as well.

So we will see what is possible and then we will decide what’s the best way forward. But right now, we are entirely focused on seeing what additional substantive progress can be made.

MODERATOR: Let’s just do two more, I think. Who hasn’t had one? Hannah Kaviani.

QUESTION: Yeah, thank you. Hannah from Radio Free Europe. I want to go back, unfortunately, to digits. You mentioned in your comments that Supreme Leader’s words last week basically shows where the gap is, and I wanted to see his position on the timeframe that Iran should have met its practical needs in its nuclear program, is also where it shows you the gap in your positions, or this timeframe that he mentions – not now, not two years, not five years – is something that can help you in the process of negotiations?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, there is no question, Hannah, that those statements that talk about what Iran’s aspirations are, but not necessarily aspirations that are met today, are – is important. And we certainly have noted that and we hope that that will be considered in working through an agreement for a period of time that is necessary to provide the assurances that the international community is looking for.

MODERATOR: Okay, let’s do one more. We’re going to go up here.

QUESTION: Yeah, if I may, a totally different subject.

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Tell me your name and where you’re from.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I’m with Suddeutsche Zeitung in Germany. So I would be interested if you can give us an idea what the Secretary and his German counterpart are going to talk about on the recent spy cases in Germany. I understand that the U.S. Government is not happy that the German Government has asked the highest-ranking intelligence official to leave the country. What is the Secretary going to offer to kind of smooth things, as has been said in Washington?

SENIOR U.S. ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Well, our relationship with Germany is a very critical one and a very important relationship. We very much look forward to the conversation between Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Secretary Kerry tomorrow. They are close colleagues who consult frequently on every subject that’s taking place in the world, but tomorrow they will be focused on how they can get substantive progress in this nuclear negotiation.

MODERATOR: Great. Well, thank you all for coming. As a reminder, especially for those who walked in late, this is all on background: Senior U.S. Administration Officials. We’ll keep you posted on when we’ll have further backgrounders, and we’ll do a transcript tonight as well, and there’s no embargo. So with that, have a great rest of your evening.



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