The Los Angeles Times reports: A deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program appeared close to completion Friday as negotiators from six world powers and Tehran smoothed remaining conflicts and top diplomats began arriving to join the talks.
After a rocky day Thursday, negotiators appeared for now to have overcome their differences on Iran’s entitlement to enrich uranium and on how to curb progress on a partially built nuclear research reactor that Western powers view as a particular threat.
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry left late Friday for Geneva to help “narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement,” the State Department said. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, arrived from Moscow early Friday evening, making him the first of the six nations’ ministers to show up for a possible signing ceremony that would end a decade of usually stalemated negotiations.
“Negotiations are moving on a positive track,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Takht Ravanchi said.
A deal would be a first-stage agreement that would give Iran temporary relief from the crushing Western sanctions on its economy in exchange for temporary limits on its nuclear program. Many nations fear that Iran, despite its insistence that its program is for peaceful purposes only, is seeking weapons capability with its huge nuclear infrastructure.
This deal would open the way for tough bargaining on a final, comprehensive agreement that would take six months or longer to be reached.
A preliminary agreement would be a major step and could reduce the threat of another war in the Middle East. But as soon as it is signed it is likely to come under attack by Republican and Democratic lawmakers and U.S. allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, who fear that it will be too lenient. [Continue reading…]