Washington, 29 Jun – Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Sunday that the United States has lost its edge going into the final days of international negotiations with Iran to curbs its nuclear projects in return for an end to economic sanctions.
“I would actually fear that the Iranians have the upper hand right now,” Hayden said on ‘Fox News Sunday’.
“I actually fear we have painted ourselves into a corner where we believe that any deal is better than no deal at the present time”.
Hayden said the framework of the deal doesn’t go far enough in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear arsenal in the future.
On Sunday, US officials confirmed to Fox News that world powers meeting in Vienna to hammer out the nuclear deal will miss their June 30 deadline.
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s returned home for consultations on Sunday. Zarif is expected to return to Vienna to join counterparts from the P5+1 countries at the negotiating table to push for a breakthrough on the talks.
US officials said they are “unconcerned” about the pace of talks and that Zarif’s trip home had been scheduled in advance.
However, several media outlets noted that the fact Zarif was leaving the talks so close to the deadline showed he needed permission to proceed with several issues tied to the talks, including how much access Tehran should give US investigators monitoring Iran’s compliance to any deal.
It’s a sticking point that the US and other powers cannot afford to negotiate, Hayden said. “We need the ability to go places”.
The dispute over access to military sites surfaced again Sunday, with the spokesman of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Gen. Masoud Jazayeri saying that any inspection by foreigners of Iran’s military centres is prohibited.
He said the attempt by the US and its allies to “obtain Iran’s military information for years … by the pressure of sanctions” will not succeed.
But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who joined the talks Friday, said Iran’s “nuclear activities, no matter where they take place”, must be verifiable.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Zarif on Sunday met in Vienna for their third encounter since Saturday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also is in Vienna, as is British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, while Russia and China are represented for now by deputy foreign ministers.
Iran’s main opposition group on Thursday unveiled a detailed report on Tehran’s strategies in nuclear negotiations with the world powers, which it is purportedly pursuing to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact and retain the capability to produce a nuclear weapon.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the group which first blew the whistle on Iran’s secret uranium enrichment and heavy-water sites in 2002, provided the 28-page report entitled “Can the Iran regime be trusted?” at a press conference in Washington.
The group said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had put red lines for international inspectors having access to Iranian military sites and nuclear scientists and any halt to nuclear Research and Development (R&D).