Daily Press Briefing by Spokesperson Jen Psaki (Excerpts)

October 8, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


QUESTION: The nuclear talks. So on October the 15th, I believe – I counted this morning – there will be five weeks and five days before the November 24th deadline. I wondered why it was decided to hold these trilateral talks at ministerial level. I noted that you said there was going to be some expert – there was going to be a lower-level meeting on the 14th, excuse me. But why is it going to be bilateral? Is the suggestion that the EU is basically, to a certain extent – the other five ministers, the other ministers are sidelined, and it’s just come down to a more narrower meeting between the Secretary, the foreign minister from Iran, and Cathy Ashton? And do you believe within the five weeks and five days that it’s actually feasible to reach a comprehensive agreement?

MS. PSAKI: Sure. Okay, let me see if I get all of these – five and five. This is an EU-led process, so it’s only natural that they’d be a part of the trilateral meeting. Virtually all of the countries in the P5+1 have had bilateral meetings with Iran over the course of time. Many of them happened at UNGA in New York, so this is just a follow-up for us. Other countries may do the same thing on their own time and terms.

In terms of when the next P5+1 round will be – full P5+1, which there certainly will be – I don’t have anything further on that. Obviously, the EU would announce that. Our focus, and certainly the focus of the Secretary’s meetings, will be – and Under Secretary Sherman and Deputy Secretary Burns – is determining whether it’s possible to reach an agreement by November 24th that effectively closes down Iran’s pathways to nuclear materials for a nuclear weapon. We believe – continue to believe that there’s still adequate time to work through these issues and arrive at a comprehensive agreement that will give the international community assurances that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon. But we don’t yet have an understanding of all the major issues, and we continue to look for Iran to make the decisions necessary to get to a comprehensive agreement. So as they did when we were in New York, I expect the conversation will continue, and certainly there will be many more meetings from here.

QUESTION: But what you just outlined is almost exactly what was told to us at the end of the last meeting in UNGA, between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Zarif. It would seem that there’s a stalemate. Is that a correct assessment?

MS. PSAKI: No. I think we still don’t have an understanding of the major issues, so that’s what the purpose of the discussion is on. We expect there will be many more meetings, and certainly there will be meetings at the experts level, and those will continue. And we have – feel we have adequate time to work through these issues.