It’s a diet that sounds more suited for college freshmen than seasoned diplomats, but it’s what’s sustained the U.S. team negotiating with Iran in various European cities over some 18 grueling months and counting: Twizzlers, Rice Krispies treats and coffee.
It turns out the number of centrifuges and enriched uranium levels Iran will be allowed aren’t the only figures the U.S. delegation has been calculating during the nuclear talks, which were supposed to end on June 30 but have now blown through their second deadline and are likely to last at least until Friday.
The group of 19 U.S. diplomats, give or take, has consumed around 10 pounds of strawberry Twizzlers, 30 pounds of mixed nuts and dried fruit, 20 pounds of string cheese, more than 200 Rice Krispies treats and hundreds of espresso pods just since the beginning of June, according to a senior administration official who doled out the numbers to reporters Tuesday. Just Monday, the team went through 3 liters of gelato for a birthday celebration.
And that’s not the only data the State Department has recorded.
Over the past year-and-a-half, the team has traveled across the Atlantic 69 times, with 11 trips last year and 6 or 7 trips this year. One member of the group estimated racking up 400,000 miles that during that time.
There have also been three hospital visits, not including Secretary of State John Kerry’s leg injury from crashing his bicycle outside Geneva in May.
It’s been enough time for the State Department staff to work out who would play whom in the movie version of the negotiations: for Kerry, Ted Danson, and for spokeswoman Marie Harf, Kirsten Dunst.
And it’s been long enough that nearly every member of the delegation has celebrated a birthday abroad, which seems fitting given that they consider themselves relatives as well as colleagues.
“We refer to ourselves as a big, happy family, and that’s really true because we have seen more of each other than our actual families, over … at least the last six months,” the administration official said.