Obama Admin’s Deadline for Iran Nuke Deal Arrives, Still No Agreement

John Kerry
John Kerry / AP

The March 24 deadline set by negotiators working on an Iranian nuclear agreement has arrived, and no "political framework agreement" has yet been reached.

A group of ten Senate Democrats stated in a Jan. 27 letter to President Obama that if no agreement is reached by the agreed upon deadline of March 24 they would support legislation that would impose additional sanctions on Iran.

"We remain deeply skeptical that Iran is committed to making the concessions required to demonstrate to the world that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful by March 24—the deadline agreed upon for a political framework agreement," wrote the group of senators.

The senators added that the March 24 "deadline is the critical test of Iranian intentions."

The deadline has already been extended twice since talks began.

"In acknowledgement of your concern regarding congressional action on legislation at this moment, we will not vote for this legislation on the Senate floor before March 24," they wrote. "After March 24, we will only vote for this legislation on the Senate floor if Iran fails to reach agreement on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement."

Administration officials now say the relevant date is March 31, not March 24. They also state no date was ever referred to as a "deadline," but rather a "goal."

On Nov. 24, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the deadline for a "political agreement" was being extended by four months.

"We are jointly—the P5+1, six nations and Iran—extending these talks for seven months with the very specific goal of finishing the political agreement within four months," said Kerry.

Senate Democrats reiterated in a letter earlier this month to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) their understanding that the deadline for a "political framework agreement" was March 24.

The deadline has not only been pushed back, but the expectations for what was to be accomplished have been lowered. Administration officials now say that they hope to reach a preliminary "understanding" by the end of the month.

Kerry said on Saturday that "genuine progress" was being made towards a deal, but that "gaps" still remained.

On the same day, Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for "death to America."