With less than 24 hours left to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran, US President Barack Obama estimated that the chances of reaching a final agreement were at “less than 50-50.”
Speaking to Democratic Senators Tuesday at a White House cocktail party, Obama made the pessimistic assessment as P5+1 and Iranian negotiators missed a self-imposed deadline for the second time.
“He said the chances he thought were less than 50-50 at this point and that he wouldn’t agree to something he thought was weak or unenforceable,” Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) told Politico on Wednesday.
“But if he comes up with an agreement and it meets his standards he wanted us to take an honest look at it and not prejudge,” the senator added.
Obama urged Democrats to support the nuclear initiative should it reach a final agreement and push the proposal through Congress.
“He wanted to make it perfectly clear that he is in no rush to an agreement and that he will walk away from the table if there is no good deal to be reached and that there isn’t a deal yet, and so all of these reports about what is in a deal are premature,” explained Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT).
World powers are set to convene Thursday in Vienna to attempt to finalize a deal with Iran. The deadline to present the agreement to US lawmakers is midnight.
Should Congress not receive the text by midnight in Washington, or early Friday morning in Vienna, the approval process will take double the amount of time and prove more problematic.
Obama is hoping to fast-track approval of the nuclear deal in a mere 30 days. Should a final deal not come though by midnight, Congress would have 60 days to reach a decision.
The nuclear accord seeks to end a 13-year standoff between Iran and the West. Building upon a framework agreement established in April, western officials seeks to dismantle a large part of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear bomb. In return, the United Nations and West would lift the harsh sanctions imposed on Iran.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Western official told AFP that there remains “very, very, very tough” issues to be resolved. Media reports out of Vienna on Wednesday indicate growing tensions after a reported stormy meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif, in which both officials engaged in a shouting match.