Senior State Department Official On the trilateral meeting with Secretary Kerry, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: So yesterday, [Senior Administration Officials] and our expert team held a bilateral meeting with the Iranians in Vienna. The EU also held one yesterday. This in part was to set up – just to sort of set the stage for the trilateral meeting today. Obviously, our team talks almost every day on the phone, over email to the Iranians and our other P5+1 counterparts. So it’s not just when we meet in person that we make progress or try to make progress. But this was a good time before the trilateral at the foreign minister level to take stock of where we were, take stock of work that’s been done in capitals since UNGA, since we all left New York, and really set the tone for today and then for the next five and a half weeks.
So the trilateral meeting today really follows on the two they had in New York. They’re kind of in a continuous discussion about these issues. I think some people have asked – or some people have asked, “Why now,” or “Why – what does it indicate that it’s at the foreign minister level?” From time to time, we do this. We did it in the JPOA. If you look at the negotiations more as a continuous cycle of discussions, there’s various points when it makes sense for the foreign ministers at the trilateral level to get together to talk through the most challenging issues. In part because the majority of the sanctions are EU and U.S., the trilateral makes sense. But our experts are doing a lot of work – Cathy Ashton representing the EU, and the P5+1 and all those experts – to really have discussions with them about where we are on each of the issues and what still needs to be done.
Tomorrow, the P5+1 political directors will come to Vienna to talk about what happened during the trilateral and chart a path at that level forward. So the Secretary will be staying for it. It’ll likely be led by Cathy Ashton, Foreign Minister Zarif, the political directors at Wendy’s level one day, talk about what happened over the last few days – other countries have had bilaterals with the Iranians as well, both at UNGA and in the last few weeks – so to sort of all talk together about where we are and really chart a path for the next five and a half weeks, which is the deadline.
And as we’ve said many times now – we said it in New York, we’ve said it in press briefings – there is still time to get this done. There is enough time to get the technical work done, to get the political agreement, to get the annexes done, if everyone can make the decisions they need to. And we’ve been, as we’ve said, very creative in terms of what we’ve put on the table, the technical ideas.
Now, “creative” does not equal concessions. I think this is a little bit of a misperception among some commentators who may be – it’s a willing misperception, some people who might not like what we’re doing. But concessions don’t equal – or “creative” doesn’t equal concessions. There are – we’re trying to shut down the four pathways to get enough nuclear material for a nuclear weapon. There are a lot of ways you can do that. There’s no one right answer. So if we can get in those four pathways to the right answer by being very technically creative, why would we not do so? The labs have been really great on this. Our experts – I mean, you know all of them, both on the nuclear side and on the sanctions side – have been working on all the technical ways we can get to yes. That’s ongoing.
And we believe the Iranian negotiating team wants to get a deal done. We do. We believe everyone wants to get a deal done. The P5+1 – we say this every time, but has remained remarkably united. Even in the face of some disagreements with countries like Russia over other things, we have remained remarkably united here inside the room, which I think is – has been very good.
So at this point, there are more decisions that need to be made, to see if the Iranians are willing to take the steps they have to, to prove to the world that their program is for exclusively peaceful purposes. We have made some progress on issues. It’s almost like – people keep asking about when and if there’s going to be a big breakthrough; that’s not how this has tended to work. It’s almost like you’re just chipping away, the hard work every day of going back to your technical design for Fordow or Iraq and saying, “How can we tweak this a little bit to get to yes here?” It’s – there’s – I mean, I don’t think any of us think there’ll be some breakthrough. There wasn’t in the JPOA, if everyone remembers. It was sort of just the hard slog of technical work, political decisions on top of that, but that is where we needed to be. So to set expectations, I think, for this round, but also the next five and a half weeks, I think that’s helpful.
So I think coming out of the --
QUESTION: Sorry, some kind of breakthrough at this meeting?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: At any – just – at any meeting, right?
QUESTION: I don’t think any --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Like people keep saying, “When – we need a big breakthrough; we haven’t seen one yet. That must mean the talks aren’t going well.” That’s actually not true. We’ve seen – when we see progress made in these – and on the – particularly on the technical side, it’s just the sort of long, hard work of chipping away at the difficulties here and the disagreements and figuring out a way forward. It doesn’t mean it’s easy and it doesn’t mean there aren’t huge challenges, but I think the lack of sort of the “aha” moment does not indicate anything about what’s happening in negotiations. And I think --
QUESTION: Well, because that seems to differ from previous statements that stress that Iran has some big decisions to make.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, they do have big decisions to make. But it’s not just one big – it’s – they do. That’s – but that doesn’t mean that would come in the form of a breakthrough in the negotiations, right? They have some serious decisions they have to make, and tough decisions they have to make, Laura, you’re absolutely right. But I think sometimes people say we’re all nervous because there hasn’t been one yet, and that’s not the case necessarily. Because we are making progress incrementally, but you’re right, they do have some big decisions they have to make.
QUESTION: Okay. And it’s not --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Fundamental decisions.
QUESTION: Okay. Well, sometimes they’ll (inaudible) – okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Fundamental decisions.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. And I think after this trilateral meeting and after Thursday’s P5+1 meeting, we will have a much better sense of the path forward until the 24th. We don’t have another round scheduled yet at the political director level. We don’t know what the schedule will be like. It will be very intense. I think we’ll know much more coming out of this round, quite frankly.
So I think that’s it, but let’s do questions.
QUESTION: Can I ask whether you are planning to do something similar as you did in – I think it was Geneva?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Vienna.
QUESTION: Was it Vienna?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: When?
QUESTION: The July block, the three-week block.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It was Vienna.
QUESTION: It was Vienna, sorry.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: Are you planning to do, like, a three-week block all the way through November or something?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We don’t know yet. We don’t know yet.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I would expect we will be spending a lot of time here, but we don’t know yet.
QUESTION: Can I ask you a question about the sanctions element?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: And this isn’t – I’m not asking you to say what you’re talking about in the room, but has the – have the negotiators, has the Administration figured out which sanctions are nuclear-related sanctions versus human rights, terrorism, ballistic missiles? What – have they – have you isolated those sanctions which would – could conceivably be lifted as part of an agreement?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Mm-hmm. We have. And as we’ve always said, in the first instance they would just be suspended, and then in the – it would take a while for them to be taken off of the books, right? And in the first instance, we would – and what that looks like exactly, that’s part of the negotiations – obviously, timelines and all of that. But in order to make sure that the Iranians are holding up their end of the deal before we remove the sanctions, right, we would suspend them first.
We have isolated that. I mean, it’s challenging, right, because some groups are sanctioned for two – for more than one thing.
QUESTION: Yeah. Are you in agreement with the Iranians on which ones – without telling me which ones are nuclear versus which ones – which ones are nuclear (inaudible)? Are you guys on the same page on that front?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I would say the discussions are ongoing. I mean, sanctions is a challenging issue. I mean, they – it’s challenging; the details of when, what, how.
QUESTION: So forgive me for being obtuse about this. I just want to make sure I understand this correctly. Are you saying that the main purpose of today and tomorrow is to sort of chart out this path forward for the next five and a half weeks, that there is unlikely to be anything substantive --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No.
QUESTION: -- other than the path forward coming out of --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No. This will be a very substantive discussion – very substantive discussion. In fact, I was just indicating that I think we’ll have a better sense for the process after – particularly after Thursday’s P5+1 meeting.
No, the trilaterals are very substantive discussions. They talk about all the issues that need to be part of a comprehensive agreement. They focus on places where we still need to see some movement. We put our ideas and thoughts on the table; they do the same. And it’s helpful, I think, when you do it – our experts work on this all the time together, the political directors work all the time together. But when you get to the foreign minister level, there could also be some conversations about the political decisions that need to be made, and I think that’s part of what comes out of these often.
QUESTION: And you said it can get done, but even the Russians yesterday were saying the November 24th date is not sacred or sacrosanct or whatever.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: (Laughter.) Well, nothing’s sacred – diplomacy. We’re focused on the 24th, and it can get done. It can get done. We’re not talking about an extension at the moment.
QUESTION: Didn’t you say when you extended the last time that there could not be another extension?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We did not. We did not say it like – that way. We said we were – we needed extra time. We were focused on that. We didn’t say there would not under any circumstance ever be any extension to this.
QUESTION: You said we’re not talking about extension at the moment?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Right. We’re not talking about an extension.
QUESTION: At the moment, though, you said?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, right, by definition --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- at the --
QUESTION: But you are thinking about the possibility of an extension?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think only because you all asked me about it.
QUESTION: As of now, you’re not saying anything different than you – what you said earlier, that (inaudible) extended what (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, no. Nothing’s changed.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. No, nothing’s changed on extension. We are focused on the 24th. We are not having discussions about it. And there is enough time to get this done.
QUESTION: What makes you so sure that you can get it done?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, technically, my experts tell me that we could get it done in the time. Now, there are political decisions that have to be made, but if they’re made, there’s enough time to work out – even – there’s going to be detailed work in the annexes and in – but what we’ve been doing is working very hard on this text, working through it. So if certain decisions are made and if we can get there, we can get it done, but I’m not trying to be overly optimistic.
QUESTION: So are you trying to say – sorry, just so I understand this correctly --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- technically, everything’s in place?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No --
QUESTION: It’s the political decision that has to be made?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No. No, no, no. No. Not that – no. Technically, everything’s not in place.
QUESTION: Right. Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We’ve been doing a lot of the technical work on various options, so as we move forward, we keep chipping away here, people make decisions, we come to agreement. There’s time to get it all done. Now, it’s going to be --
QUESTION: On the --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s not a lot of time. But no, I’m not saying everything technically.
QUESTION: Okay. Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I would not want to give that impression.
QUESTION: My sense from July through UNGA was that Iran and the P5+1 have different ideas, big wide gaps on the enrichment capacity issue. Do you think that – okay, well, what does that mean? It’s – is it narrowing?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think overall in every issue, in general, I would say the gaps have narrowed, but let’s not over-crank it. (Laughter.) They can narrow a little bit and they’ve still narrowed.
I think that one thing that’s important to keep in mind is everyone focuses on certain specific numbers or any one measure of this agreement. There are a lot of factors that go into getting particularly enough uranium, making enough uranium, enriching enough uranium for a nuclear weapon, and it’s not about any one number. It’s about how they all fit together. And I’m not going to use the famous analogy --
QUESTION: Thank you.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- because I never want to hear that word again. No, but it’s about how all the pieces fit together.
QUESTION: So it sounds like there have – some of the creative ideas have gotten traction on that – on narrowing gaps on the enrichment capacity issue.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think across the board, some creative ideas have gotten traction. And I don’t want to give any specifics about any one, and I don’t want to be overly optimistic about it. There are fundamental decisions the Iranians will have to make.
QUESTION: So are you saying that the gaps have narrowed on the uranium question? That’s what you’re saying?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m saying --
QUESTION: All issues. On all issues?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I don’t – okay, “all,” let me think. I’m going through all the issues in my head.
QUESTION: The overall and every issue, I would say the gaps have narrowed. I think that --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But on some of them they’re small.
QUESTION: They can narrow a little bit, okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: They’re tiny, narrowing.
QUESTION: So where are the biggest narrowings, if that make sense?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, we --
QUESTION: I mean, uranium is one of the biggest issues (inaudible) to the problem.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: And there are still big – there are still --
QUESTION: But you said the gaps are narrowing on that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There’s still significant gaps on enrichment, though.
QUESTION: Oh, okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But I mean, it’s not like – it’s not an either/or, right? Like we’re working on creative ways to give us all of the assurances we need that on the uranium path, they cannot use that at Natanz or Fordow to get – to make enough material for a weapon that we can – that they can’t use Arak for a plutonium path, and that we can shut down their ability to use a covert path, to the extent that we would have enough time to see it because of transparency and monitoring, verification, access to things like mines and mills – some of which we have in the JPOA.
But there’s a lot of ways to get to yes here, and create – again, “creative” is not – I mean, we haven’t changed the standard that has to be met to get to yes. But there’s a lot of pieces that go into enriching uranium to get a nuclear weapon. It’s not any one number or any one thing.
QUESTION: So just because gaps have narrowed a little bit doesn’t mean that there are – it doesn’t mean that significant gaps remain? It’s not a binary?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It’s not binary, right. It’s not binary. Yes, on many issues – I mean, on probably all issues, gaps have narrowed, but there are still really challenging pieces of it and there’s still very significant gaps on core issues.
QUESTION: Do you get a sense from the talks – or do your negotiators get a sense from the talks that Rouhani, Zarif are negotiating still with a strong mandate from the Supreme Leader?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, that’s a hard thing to judge, right? I mean, nothing has changed in our assessment of that, that they’re here. I mean, they’ve been given space to come here and talk through these issues. And our assessment of that space hasn’t changed, to my knowledge, but it’s a good question. It’s a good question. And at the end of the day, we all have capitals we have to go back to – all of us, not just us and the Iranians, right? And every one of those capitals has to be okay with it, and that’s a lot of people.
QUESTION: Has anything changed your assessment about how moderate and practical they are given their rhetoric over the last few weeks since --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: On the nuclear issue? I mean, their rhetoric isn’t new. They’ve – well, we’re – what we have never been focused on is what they say rhetorically in the press because there are a variety of reasons they do it, and it is what it is. I think what we’re focused on has always been what they bring to the table in the negotiating room. I mean, if we were focused on everything that they said in the press – be challenging.
QUESTION: Is it the Administration’s position that they’re literally ready to pull the plug on this if you’re not where you are on November 24th? Because the perception is you guys are so invested in this now.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: We – “you guys,” us?
QUESTION: The U.S. Government. And there’s just no way you’re going to pull the plug on these talks if there’s no deal on November 24th because too much has – too much of an investment --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well --
QUESTION: The fallout from the collapse of the talks could be too destabilizing, so --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, we’re not talking about extension or anything like that in the room. We’re talking about getting this done by the 24th. I’m sure there will be a lot of speculation, as the Secretary said last night, about the different things that could happen on the 24th. I think everyone is at the table, including the Iranians, wanting to get this done. I mean, they know they will not get the sanctions relief they need for their economy without this. So – and we know that the most durable way to resolve this is diplomatically.
QUESTION: Are you ruling out that there would be an extension that the U.S. could agree to? Would there be some extension --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m saying we’re not talking about it in the room, and again, there’s a lot of speculation, and we’re focused on the 24th.
QUESTION: So you’re ruling it in?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’m not ruling it in or out. I feel like this is Groundhog Day. I feel like I’ve had this discussion before. No, but this is incredibly technical and detailed work. It really is, and it does take time, but there is enough time.
QUESTION: Could you tell us, is there one overriding – I know you keep talking about the analogy that you’re not going to use again, but is there one --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Oh, never again.
QUESTION: Is there one overriding issue that is still the main hurdle to finishing the deal?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Not really. I mean, if you remember when the Secretary gave his remarks here when we decided to extend, he mentioned a couple that were still pretty challenging, including enrichment and stockpiles. I don’t want to – I really don’t want to just say any one because I think – I don’t think there’s just, like, one sticking point. I think – which is not how this negotiation has tended to go, because there are so many issues and so many parts of it that --
QUESTION: Given how complex the negotiation has become, does it – this is not a good question for – I started it.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: That’s okay.
QUESTION: Doesn’t it – does it make you reconsider why you allow – you accepted Iran to have some level of enrichment?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Does it what?
QUESTION: I mean, when you had a clear line that enrichment had to stop, there was a clear marker for negotiations. And once you open that up, now you’re bogged down in a million technical questions that you yourself say --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But we never would have gotten to this point if we had not, as the P5+1, allowed for a limited domestic enrichment program that was very carefully monitored. I mean, you’ve heard other senior officials on background say, “Look, if we could get 000, we’d do it.” But (a) you don’t need to get 000 to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon – you just don’t need to technically – and (b) we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t said, under very strict verification and monitoring and transparency, there’s a way to have a limited domestic enrichment program.
QUESTION: I’m sure you’ve said this a lot, but just again --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I’ve said all of this a lot. It’s okay.
QUESTION: Yeah, just again, what’s at stake here for – what happens if you – if there is no deal? What’s at stake for the U.S. and Iran?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I mean, what --
QUESTION: What would happen?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Without a comprehensive agreement, as I just said, Iran will not get the sanctions relief it needs for its economy.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: It just won’t. It’s not just – this isn’t about the U.S., though. I mean, it’s – it is extraordinary that the EU and the P5+1, countries who don’t always agree on many things, right – or often don’t – have remained in lockstep on this issue because it really is something the entire world, I think, is very concerned about. I mean, we’ve talked about – it would be destabilizing for the region, it could lead to a nuclear arms race in the region. We’ve always said that we will do whatever it takes to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon, but diplomacy has always been our preferred path for a variety of very good reasons, so --
QUESTION: Do Iranian – Iran’s domestic political dynamics at all affect the – our negotiating? Is --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Our negotiating?
QUESTION: In the sense that there’s a lot of Iranian officials will say, “Well, if we don’t get a deal, the hardliners will be strengthened in Iran, and even if you have an imperfect deal, the process continues. That’s good for Rouhani and it will keep the more extreme types in Iran at bay.” Does that at all factor, or is it just purely technical?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, from a – what we would accept in a deal, it’s purely technical, right? We – the pieces have to fit together at a technical level so they can’t make enough nuclear material for a nuclear weapon, period, right?
I mean, we’re all also acutely aware that we all will have to sell this deal publicly to our own people. So we’re all aware of it, but does that change what we’d be willing to accept? No. Is that something I think about? Yes. But you can’t read the tea leaves here. You can’t try --
QUESTION: So we shouldn’t write about it at all?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, I – we can’t try to read --
QUESTION: Oh, you. Okay.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- the tea – like – us trying to read domestic Iranian political tea leaves seems like a fairly futile process, right? Like, that’s – you – this is how you get a nuclear weapon, this is how you (inaudible) nuclear material. We’re not going to let them get that. We got to all figure out how to sell it back home.
QUESTION: Did you get anything on the atmospherics at the meeting yesterday? The bilat --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I haven’t yet, because we just – I haven’t spoken to [Senior Administration Officials] yet, so I’m sorry.
QUESTION: And how much --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: [Senior State Department Official] should give you some in the backgrounder tonight.
QUESTION: Okay, thanks.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah. I’m trying to think of what else. Yeah, I don’t – I don’t want to give the impression, I’m sorry, when I said that gaps have narrowed. They have, but like --
QUESTION: You said a little.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Some a little, some more. But I don’t want to give the impression “gaps have narrowed”.
QUESTION: So how would you phrase it that – I mean, the (inaudible)?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think we’ve always said throughout this process there have been – we keep chipping away and we keep working on the technical pieces, and in places, gaps have narrowed. But the Iranians have some fundamental decisions to make. We keep working to be creative, as do they. So you don’t get to 100 percent till you get to 100 percent, no matter how much something may have narrowed.
QUESTION: Do the Americans have any fundamental decisions to make?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I think we all do, but – look, I think we all have decisions to make at various points throughout this negotiating process, yes. But I think this is about Iran’s nuclear program and its repeated violation of its international obligations. So yes, we all do, but it’s – the onus is on them to take the credible steps to prove that they (inaudible) get a nuclear weapon.
QUESTION: Don’t want, yeah.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, the onus isn’t on us, but that being said, we want to solve this diplomatically. And so yes, we all have decisions to make. We all went back to capitals after July 27th and had conversations there. We’ve been having them all about how we can get to a workable agreement.
QUESTION: In New York last month, what I was hearing – the American creative ideas were sort of what you were talking about with labs and – to not have a uranium pathway to a bomb. I heard the Iranians also have creative ideas, but the problem with some of them on the enrichment capacity issue was they’re reversible. There were – do I understand they weren’t – so have you --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- seen any progress on that? I’m sure --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, yeah. That’s obviously one of the things we’re focused on is reversibility and --
QUESTION: But I mean, it seemed like the numbers were narrowing, but the --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There’s just a lot of pieces here that fit together in a variety of ways.
QUESTION: But there’s nothing that’s happened since then that gives you all more optimism that this thing is narrowing further?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, I think I never use the word “optimism.” I think we’re realistic. I don’t think we’re any more or less optimistic or not today than we were at the end of UNGA. I think that we know what the issues are. They know what the issues are. We know how to work through them. We’re trying to get to a workable agreement here. We don’t know if we will. We very well may not.
QUESTION: What Jo asked earlier about – just following up on it, so there’s enough time to even work through all the technical stuff, although --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Mm-hmm. There is.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah.
QUESTION: It’s not like come November 24th, that we still need more time to --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I mean, there’s enough time to get it done, and that’s our goal. Nobody wants to spend every holiday doing implementation anymore, if everyone remembers --
Yeah, so I think – I probably have to hop off and get ready to go over to the Coburg, but [Senior State Department Official] will come talk to you tonight. Are there any sort of things, last things, you want me to clarify, or are we all --
QUESTION: Just that the – you said we don’t know if we’ll get through the issues, right? We very well --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: What?
QUESTION: I mean, you said we don’t know if we’ll get through the issue; we very well may not? So is that --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: I said we don’t know if we’ll be able to get an agreement. We very well may not. We know what the issues are. Those are not a secret to anyone. Will we get to yes? I mean, [Senior Administration Official] sat up here and said – you’ve heard her say it many times. She doesn’t know. None of us know. Secretary Kerry doesn’t know. He said it last night.
QUESTION: Unknown unknown. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, he didn’t know about the deadline. Did he say he didn’t know if he’d ever get it? Maybe I misunderstood him.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: But he’s right. There’s a lot of people trying to guess here, but we’ll see. And we’ll see how the next few days go and [Senior State Department Official] will come talk to you tonight.
QUESTION: Are you going to – is anybody going to brief tomorrow to any press that’s in Vienna?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Here?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: No, no. Tomorrow is going to be pretty low-key. I really think it just is to wrap up the trilat, the bilats, and --
QUESTION: Also, there is a chance for more talks tomorrow morning, or --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Just – that’s just the P5+1 political directors.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Secretary’s leaving tomorrow morning.
QUESTION: He won’t --
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: There is no chance of that, I don’t think.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Watch me be proven wrong, but I have not even heard a --
QUESTION: A peep.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: -- a peep. This really is for High Representative Ashton and Foreign Minister Zarif to have – call together the political directors like they do, have a day of just consultations, talk about the meetings that have happened with all the countries and --
QUESTION: And do you expect out of that meeting, then, that perhaps by early next week, we’ll get a sense of what the schedule is going forward?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Let’s all hope so, yes.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yeah, right, exactly. I think so.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Or at least some sense for you.
QUESTION: Some notion.
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Some sense for you. Okay?
QUESTION: Thank you very much.