It's Monday, 13 July, the day of the third deadline for an agreement over Iran's nuclear program. But after months of negotiations, Iran and the various other P5+1 nations still haven't reached a deal.
The inaction and delays have frustrated journalists who have descended upon Vienna. Without much to report but unable to leave, they often can only relay the fact that diplomats have arrived or meetings have taken place between various combinations of diplomats.
Here are three news alerts that have become typical of the past 20 days in Vienna:
#Iran FM Zarif & #seckerry meeting w presence of Salehi, Moniz, deputies, Schmid, Fereidoun & Robert Malley began at abt 1:45pm. #IranTalks
— Abas Aslani (@abasinfo) July 13, 2015
Christiane @camanpour has arrived–perhaps a sign like Lavrov arrival that the countdown to a deal has begun
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) July 13, 2015
#Iran & P5+1 FMs likely to have a plenary at 9pm tonight which could be important. #IranTalks #IranTalksVienna
— Abas Aslani (@abasinfo) July 13, 2015
As it stands, the diplomats seem to indicate the end is imminent, with issues still ahead — what these issues are however, are not entirely known to the public, so the news remains mundane.
No one is thinking of another extension. Everyone working hard to get to yes today, but political will still required. #IranTalks — Alireza Miryousefi (@miryousefi) July 13, 2015
Met with @FedericaMog and @JZarif this AM. Still have difficult issues to resolve. #IranTalksVienna
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) July 11, 2015
Many Iranians have taken to social media to make memes out of the many delays and inaction in the negotiations.
#IranDeal loading… please wait! #Iran #IranTalks #IranTalksVienna #IranWinsPeace pic.twitter.com/cU81AOfcuL — Amin Khorami (@aminismyname) July 12, 2015
Slugging #IranTalks pic.twitter.com/Jyn2gPn8lv
— Holly Dagres (@hdagres) July 9, 2015
Creative cartoon by Hadi Heidri inspired by Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory #IranTalksVienna #Iran pic.twitter.com/0UJPdmOfPq — Reza H. Akbari (@rezahakbari) July 12, 2015
خوب چرا؟ #IranTalksVienna memes ( why won't they get to a blasted agreement?) pic.twitter.com/XLfmud1lil — Mahsa Alimardani (@maasalan) July 12, 2015
Arash Azizi, who has been covering the negotiations for Manoto TV, an Iranian satellite network based in the United Kingdom, told Global Voices a little about the nature of covering the often slow diplomatic process as a journalist.
I've been here for 20 days now and I've had to cancel two holidays so far one of them involving a friend flying all the way from Canada. Despite all this, I actually consider it a privilege to be here to speak to millions of Iranians every night and give them the latest about these history-making talks. But it's obviously energy-draining in a special way: it feels like we've been on a loop for three weeks. Nothing has really happened! Well, they are talking. I mean this is the nature of diplomatic conferences. Let us not forget the Paris Peace Conference took a year! Something similar for Congress of Vienna 1815. There was an expression back then: “Congress dances, but doesn't move forward.” Which alluded to the festivities that accompanied the diplomats and monarchs attending the congress. They seemed to be doing nothing but at the end they produced a stable international system that lasted for decades. So, it's not that strange that diplomatic conferences can keep on keeping on. Perhaps this should make us reflect on the way we do news and journalism and the way we cover such events. Multiplication of sources and platforms means more than 500 journalists are here (also due to the fact that no less than seven countries are involved). It'd be interesting to think how should diplomatic events (behind the closed doors by their nature) be covered in a substantive way. By the way, on a more mundane level, I was quoted in an Austrian newspaper about the urgent matter of running out of clean underwear!! Also funny anecdotes: I give directions to people and tourists; have a regular cafe; a regular gym; have joined the city's public bike system and now do much of my un-related-to-talks business here.
In the meantime, it seems some journalists have already planned their check-outs before a confirmation of a concrete end.
Some Iranian journalists are packed and checked out and seemingly ready to go pic.twitter.com/0TmDZmiIam — Laura Rozen (@lrozen) July 13, 2015