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Is An Iran Deal Finally At Hand?


In Vienna, an agreement restricting Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief appears to be tantalizingly close. If the final issues are resolved, the deal would be historic and an immediate target for critics on Capitol Hill and in Tehran. NPR's Peter Kenyon has the latest from Vienna.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: As experts and deputies ground through the text of an agreement and technical annexes, described as being from 80 to 100 pages long, Secretary of State John Kerry got on his crutches Sunday morning to visit one of the houses Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once lived in. His brief comments to reporters were more upbeat than in previous days, as were the remarks of top Iranian negotiators.

As the French foreign minister said recently, all the cards are now on the table - meaning that for each sticking point - including a U.N. arms embargo, Iran's future nuclear research and access to sensitive Iranian sites by nuclear inspectors - a range of solutions has been identified. And it's now up to Iran and six world powers to make the political choices on which formula would make the agreement more sellable to tough domestic audiences back home. Iranian state TV is reporting that a nuclear agreement is on its way today, and Iranian police say they're prepared for street celebrations in Tehran and elsewhere.

In Washington, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers agreed a deal seems inevitable, but they warned that it looked to them like the Obama administration was giving up on too much of what it had previously said it was demanding from Tehran.

Congress will have 60 days to review and consider any accord, and Iran's supreme leader will also have his say. The U.N. Security Council also has to issue a new resolution explaining how it will deal with its sanctions against Iran. And then Iran would begin carrying out nuclear restrictions. These include huge reductions in its stockpile of nuclear fuel, uninstalling two-thirds of its centrifuges for enriching uranium and removing the core from a heavy water reactor. It would also have to address questions about its past nuclear research. Not long ago, getting these concessions from Iran at the negotiating table would've seemed like a diplomat's fantasy. But if this deal is reached, the coming weeks are likely to focus more on what the administration had to give up in order to get them. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Vienna. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.