The Iranian nuclear talks are heading into sudden-death overtime -- and the US 'can't wait forever'

RTR4THP4REUTERS / Brian SnyderU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pose for a photograph before resuming talks over Iran’s nuclear programme in Lausanne March 16, 2015.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday said the US will “not be rushed” into forging a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. But he also gave a hint of an ultimatum to Iranian negotiators.

“We are not going to sit at the negotiating table forever,” Kerry told reporters in Geneva, where Iran and the so-called P5+1 — the US, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany — are attempting to come to a deal that will curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief.

“All that we are focused on is the quality of the agreement,” Kerry said. But “we are absolutely prepared to walk away.”

The parties on Tuesday extended the deadline to reach a deal to Friday. Kerry did not say whether negotiators were on track to meet that deadline, but he suggested that negotiations would continue for an undetermined period of time.

Kerry said he spoke with President Barack Obama on Wednesday, and he told Kerry that “we can’t wait forever” for a deal.

“This is not open-ended,” Kerry said. “We are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, echoing Kerry’s sentiments, said negotiations would not be “rushed.” And he used an American idiom to make that point:

In any case, the update likely means that the talks will go beyond Thursday. That means that Obama could face more trouble on the domestic front. The Obama administration needed to submit a deal to Congress by Thursday in order for it to move swiftly through Congress.

Under a compromise bill supported by bipartisan majorities in Congress that Obama signed into law, a 60-day congressional review period on the final deal was cut in half to 30 days.

But that review period will snap back to 60 days if Obama submits the agreement to Congress later than July 9.

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