State Department Really Doesn’t Want to Use the Word ‘Deadline’ in Iran Talks

By Meredith Dake
Posted July 8, 2015 at 4:13pm
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Reporters and State Department spokesman John Kirby seemed equally frustrated Tuesday in a back-and-forth over the Iran nuclear negotiations that took up nearly half of the 40 minute presser. CNN’s Elise Labott along with other reporters tried to nail down the willingness of those involved in the negotiations to stay at the table with continuing extensions of lifting of restrictions on Iran. Kirby made it quite clear that there were no “deadlines” that were surpassed, but only extensions continually being extended to keep Iran at the negotiating table. Exchanges about semantics and eye-rolling peppered the escalating exchanges until finally Labott concluded she wouldn’t ask any more questions. “Why bother?” she asked. The Department said the deadline for Congress to review the possible deal was not a major factor in the negotiations because the administration’s goal is to get a deal that would “stand up to scrutiny” regardless of the timeframe Congress is given to review. Read the transcript via CQ.com, with part of the exchange below: QUESTION: But John, I don’t understand why nobody just says look, this is just — you know, you need to give us time to negotiate this. Why the self-imposed deadlines that keep coming up? QUESTION: Acceptable (ph) extensions. KIRBY: Thank you, Elise. QUESTION: I know that, but — KIRBY: Let me give you the talking points here, Elise, because you’re using them just as well as I am. The — QUESTION: I’m rolling my eyes (inaudible). KIRBY: You roll your eyes a lot. These aren’t — you know, you use the phrase self-imposed deadlines. I think what I would describe them as is self-imposed efforts to keep the negotiators in the room and allow them to keep doing their work. And it’s an extension of the — of — it’s not — it’s not a deadline that, you know, has to be — you have to have an agreement by that — by the 10th now, what it is is it’s — we’re extending the parameters of the JPOA and the temporary sanctions relief that Iran has right now another few days so that everybody can continue the work so that the work remains under — you know, on top of a valid foundation. That’s really what this is. And I don’t know what it’s going to look like on the 10th. I don’t know what it’s going to look like tomorrow. We’re taking it day by day. QUESTION: But it is possible you could be there next week? KIRBY: I don’t want to speculate. It would be inappropriate and definitely imprudent for me to speculate about what the next week is going to — QUESTION: But is — I mean, I think you said from this podium in the last several week that deadlines were good, quote, “forcing functions.” So without a good forcing function, like, the Iranians or you guys, can just drag — you know, can just keep this going in definitely until one side, you know, gets what they want. So at what point do you say, you know, this round is not going to happen? KIRBY: I don’t know the answer to that question. I understand the desire to pin down sort of a date certain at which we’re going to, you know, do it, you know, like a light switch — no go or go. And I just — we just aren’t there yet. And I couldn’t possibly set that out there for you. QUESTION: So what’s the forcing function now? KIRBY: The forcing function is that now we have another extension of the JPOA parameters so that negotiators can stay in the room and stay at the table, and that’s what they’re going to do. Everybody — we’re getting fixated on days on a calendar. And I understand, you know, I got up here and I said, you know, we’re all still focused on the 30th of June, and that’s true. The 30th of June represented the — what we had hoped would be the end of this round. Obviously, the round now has gone a little longer. We’re in extra innings, if you will, for a baseball analogy. And — but it’s still the same round. It’s still the same — it’s still the same game. And so that’s what we’re focused on. And again, there’s been so much work done that I think everybody believes, and everybody remains comm