International

Hopes Rising For 'First Step' At Nuclear Talks With Iran

Negotiators at their round table in Geneva, where talks are being held about Iran's nuclear ambitions. i i

hide captionNegotiators at their round table in Geneva, where talks are being held about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Denis Balibouse /Reuters/Landov
Negotiators at their round table in Geneva, where talks are being held about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Negotiators at their round table in Geneva, where talks are being held about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Denis Balibouse /Reuters/Landov

(Click here to jump to updates.)

"Expectations are really going up quickly" in Geneva, Switzerland, that negotiators could announce Friday that they've reached a "first-step agreement that contains the first real limits on Iran's nuclear program in nearly a decade," NPR's Peter Kenyon reports on Morning Edition.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is joining the diplomats in Geneva — adding a stop at the talks to his itinerary for a trip he's been on — and France's foreign minister also may drop in, Peter reports. Their presence has ramped up speculation about an agreement.

UPDATES

7:30 p.m. ET; Talks To Resume Saturday: A senior U.S. State Department official says the talks will continue on Saturday amid "[continuing] progress as we [work] to narrow gaps." (Reuters)

1:15 p.m. ET; Lavrov Now Expected To Join Talks: "Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to join talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program in Geneva on Saturday, diplomatic sources said, in a further sign of headway towards an interim deal between Tehran and world powers." (Reuters)

12:10 p.m. ET; No Agreement Yet, Kerry Says: Secretary of State Kerry said after arriving in Geneva that "there is not an agreement at this point. ... There are some important gaps that have to be closed." (Reuters)

Noon ET; Other Ministers At Talks: "The French, German and U.K. Foreign Ministers — Laurent Fabius, Guido Westerwelle and William Hague — are also in Geneva. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is not scheduled to attend the talks but Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov is in the city." (BBC News)

The so-called P5+1 talks with Iran are aimed at preventing that nation from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and others in the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.K.) are at the negotiating table because of concern that Iran also is pursuing weapons.

Israel, too, has long insisted that Iran is trying to join the club of nations with nuclear weapons. On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that while Iran is getting "the deal of the century ... the international community got a bad deal, this is a very bad deal. Israel utterly rejects it."

What might be in a "first step" deal? Iran is anxious to get out from under crippling economic sanctions. "If Iran agrees to suspend" efforts to enrich uranium, Peter says, "and reduce its existing stockpile ... that would ease a lot of the fears that Tehran is getting closer and closer to someday producing nuclear weapons fuel."

A deal also might include a cap on the number of centrifuges Iran has. They're used to do the enrichment.

In return, Iran might get limited sanctions relief and some badly needed currency.

If negotiators do announce some sort of agreement, "time would be bought to work out a comprehensive nuclear deal over the next coming months," Peter adds.

Here's how the news is playing out on other news outlets' websites:

— "West And Iran May Be Near A Nuclear Deal." (The New York Times)

— "Kerry Visit Lifts Hope Of Iran Deal." (BBC News)

— "Iran Nears Interim Nuclear Deal With U.S." (The Financial Times)

— "Netanyahu Warns Kerry: Israel Not Bound By Any Deal Between Iran And West." (Haaretz)

— "Kerry To Join Iran Nuclear Talks In Geneva In Bid To Close Deal." (Al-Jazeera)

On 'Morning Edition': NPR's Peter Kenyon reports from Geneva

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