Sen. Bob Menendez Says U.S. Likely To Miss Deadline For Nuclear Accord With Iran

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J  (AP2011)

The United States is likely to miss its deadline for reaching a deal with Iran over its uranium enrichment program, according to Sen. Robert Menendez, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, told reporters on Tuesday that the United States’ self-imposed July 20 deadline is likely to pass without an accord with Iran, reported The Hill.

“Personally, I am not optimistic that they will achieve an agreement by that date,” Menendez said.

Officials of the two nations are in Vienna in an effort to reach an agreement on Iran's nuclear program. Menendez has been a supporter of a measure that would impose sanctions against the Middle Eastern country if it fails to agree to steps regarding its uranium-enrichment program.

The White House, according to The Hill, has expressed a preference for handling concerns over Iran’s nuclear program diplomatically. But many lawmakers in both parties have said that Iran must be closely monitored and that sanctions are the kind of tougher approach that it's more likely to respond to.

“Current sanctions brought Iran to the negotiating table, and a credible threat of future sanctions will require Iran to cooperate and act in good faith at the negotiating table,” Menendez said last year. 

“The burden rests with Iran to negotiate in good faith and verifiably terminate its nuclear weapons program. Prospective sanctions will influence Iran’s calculus and accelerate that process toward achieving a meaningful diplomatic resolution.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sought to convey that his nation is taking the talks this week seriously.

“If the other parties enter in negotiations with realistic views, the possibility of a final agreement exists,” Zarif said, according to Reuters.

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