UPDATE 5:19 p.m.: President Obama called Netanyahu on Friday. According to a White House statement, the two discussed “our ongoing efforts to advance a peaceful resolution of the international community’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.” The two also “agreed to stay in touch” according to the readout. The readout did not go into details about Netanyahu’s outright rejection of the current deal being negotiated.
UPDATE 12:29 p.m.: When Kerry arrived in Geneva he said, “There are still important gaps that have to be closed,” and told reporters that “I want to emphasize: there is not an agreement at this point in time. There are still some important issues on the table that are unresolved.”
UPDATE 11:04 a.m.: Secretary of state John Kerry will head to Geneva on Friday in an effort to reach an agreement freezing part of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a reduction in sanctions. Kerry will have a three-way meeting on Friday afternoon with foreign minister of Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif, and the European Union foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
Kerry is heading to Geneva from Israel, where he had a talk with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After the meeting, Netanyahu publically condemned the impending agreement, saying that “Israel utterly rejects it and what I am saying is shared by many in the region whether or not they express that publically.” Netanyahu told reporters that he would act independently of the United States in order to protect Israel if need be. “Israel is not obliged by this agreement,” Netanyahu told reporters before his meeting with Kerry, “and Israel will do everything it needs to do to defend itself and the security of its people.”
The impending deal has been presented as the first stage in a process that will last for many more months, potentially leading to a permanent agreement. For now, the United States is considering relaxing some sanctions, most notably by unfreezing Iranian cash frozen in foreign accounts, in return for Iran taking steps to limit its nuclear program. Netanyahu said that if the plan is agreed to, it would be the “deal of the century” for Iran.
While Netanyahu wants Iran’s government to completely eliminate its uranium-enrichment program, Kerry has previously said that it needs to prove its atomic activities are peaceful.