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Framework Deal Reached On Iran Nuclear Program


We are spending much of this morning examining Iran's nuclear deal with the U.S. and other powers.


The deal is not final or even signed. What negotiators announced is that they agreed on a framework for a deal, with details still to come.

INSKEEP: But if it's finalized, the deal would ease a year's long confrontation over Iran's nuclear program. An isolated nation would take a major step toward opening to the world.

MONTAGNE: An early reading of the agreement suggests one thing, more restrictions were placed on Iran than many critics predicted. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Lausanne, Switzerland.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: After grueling, all-night sessions and moments when the sides seemed to be growing farther apart rather than closer together, officials say one of the last big issues on Iran's ability to research and develop nuclear equipment was resolved close to 6 in the morning Thursday. That night, EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jointly announced not a deal, exactly, but a surprisingly strong basis for one. Zarif focused on what the deal won't do, mothball nuclear sites, prevent Iran from improving its program in the future, or last indefinitely.


FOREIGN MINISTER JAVAD ZARIF: None of those measures include closing any of our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that. Our facilities will continue.


KENYON: Videos posted to Twitter and Facebook showed a delighted reaction from Tehran residents, who turned out in large numbers at the airport to give the returning Zarif a hero's welcome. But Iran's hardliners will be angry at some of the limits Iran would have to accept. Iran stands to lose 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium and other potential nuclear fuel. Of its nearly 20,000 existing centrifuges, only about 5,000 will be permitted to enrich uranium for at least 10 years. About a thousand more will be doing non-uranium research work at the underground facility at Fordo. On Iran's main goal, sanctions relief, Zarif sounded definitive. But he chose his words carefully.


ZARIF: All Security Council resolutions will be terminated. All U.S. nuclear-related secondary sanctions as well as EU sanctions will be terminated. When we implement our measures, there won't be no sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

KENYON: The key phrase there is, when we implement our measures. U.S. officials say in order to get banking and financial sanctions lifted in the first phase of an agreement, Iran will have to complete steps limiting its nuclear program. To get U.N. sanctions lifted, the State Department says Iran would have to fulfill a number of commitments, including explaining its past nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Secretary of State John Kerry also says IAEA inspectors will be seeing more of Iran's nuclear facilities.


SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Not only will inspectors have regular access to all of Iran's declared facilities indefinitely, but they will also be able to monitor the facilities that produce the centrifuges themselves and the uranium that supports the nuclear program. And they will be able to do that for at least 20 years.

KENYON: But Kerry acknowledged that not all the major sticking points were resolved. He tried to anticipate critics, saying the true measure of this accord is not whether it meets all of one side's demands at the expense of another but whether it leaves the world more secure than it would be without it. He thanked members of Congress for refraining from passing new Iran legislation thus far.


KERRY: We sincerely hope that members will continue to give us the time and the space that we need to fully explain the political agreement that we have reached and to work out the remaining details of a final deal.

KENYON: In the days ahead, Kerry and his team will be promoting a version of this framework that may sound very different from the one Zarif and his team will be pushing in Tehran. Whether those views can be reconciled in the next three months into a legally binding agreement remains to be seen. It's called, benignly enough, the drafting phase. But one U.S. official has said they expect every sentence will be a negotiation. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Lausanne, Switzerland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.