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Iran, World Powers Reach Deal On Nuclear Program


The moment has come. Negotiators for Iran, the U.S. and five world powers are preparing to announce an historic nuclear agreement. After weeks of intense talks - talks that broke through several deadlines - the final agreement came well after midnight in Vienna. It imposes severe restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for easing sanctions on Iran. We go now to NPR's Peter Kenyon, who is at the talks in Vienna. Good morning.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Now, so it looks like a deal has been made - announcements not quite at this moment, but what is happening?

KENYON: Well, we're waiting for the EU foreign policy chief and the foreign minister of Iran to step out on a stage at a building near the U.N. complex here in Vienna. They're going to announce something many people would've thought unlikely, maybe impossible, not too many years ago, a long lasting nuclear agreement that'll see Iran accept very tough restrictions on its activity and also open it up to new inspections by the U.N. inspectors to make sure it's keeping its promises. Tehran gets a badly needed injection of money and even more importantly the chance to rejoin the international financial system, sell more oil. Now, this is far from a done deal. Congress has a say, others as well, but just the fact they've gotten this far is pretty remarkable.

MONTAGNE: And I know the details aren't out yet, but what do we know about how close the U.S. and its allies have come to achieving the transparency and access to Iran's nuclear program that they've been after? That was a huge sticking point.

KENYON: Very big, and the goal of the U.S. was to achieve what was agreed to, in broad terms, at Lausanne in April, the Lausanne framework, and then to build on it if possible. The details are still coming, but the early indications are that they did do that, especially on nuclear restrictions, but also somewhat on the key verification measures. There were, of course, compromises, and they will no doubt be picked over in Congress and elsewhere in the coming days. The bottom line from what we have now is that the U.S. feels this deal is strong enough to take to Congress and to put into implementation.

MONTAGNE: And what about sanctions? That was a sticking point in the other direction - that is to say Iran was pushing for a faster lifting of sanctions before certain things had happened. In the end, what do we know about sanctions?

KENYON: Well, that really was one of the major sticking points, and it had to do with the U.N. Security Council. They have an arms embargo. They've got missile restrictions. That turned out to be the 11th-hour problem that just kept them up late at night, night after night. And finally, there is a compromise whereby some of these restrictions will stay in place as the U.N. said they would. On the other hand, Iran gets the economic relief that it needs. Critics are going to be picking over these details very closely. We're going to hear a lot about that in the coming days and weeks.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, we're going to hear a fair amount about that this morning, as a matter of fact. Hopefully we'll know much, much more just in the near hours to come. What happens next?

KENYON: It goes to the U.N. Security Council. They have to endorse the deal. They're going to lay out effectively a road map of what happens next. Sanctions will be technically terminated on paper but not lifted until Iran completes its nuclear commitments. The IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, has to get involved. And then the economic relief will flow to Iran if it gets past Congress, the supreme leader and all the other hurdles still in the way.

MONTAGNE: All right. That's NPR's Peter Kenyon. He's covering what appears to be a deal finally between Iran and the U.S. and five world powers, speaking to us from the talks in Vienna. Thanks very much.

KENYON: You're welcome, Renee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.