Gaps Remain as Deadline Nears on Iran Deal

NYT FDCarl Hulse 7/6/2015

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Good Monday morning from Washington, where candidates are recovering from a working weekend of holiday parades and rope lines. Financial disclosures continue to trickle in amid a focus on outside fund-raising groups, but the trail gives way this week to Vienna, where negotiators report progress but also great distance over crucial elements of a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

Time is running short for the United States and Iran to reach a nuclear agreement as Republican lawmakers raise increasingly strong warnings about the deal.

Gathered in Vienna, negotiators were still at odds on multiple outstanding points two days before the countries’ self-imposed Tuesday deadline, and Secretary of State John Kerry said it was not a sure thing that a final agreement could be achieved despite indications from the Iranian side that a compromise over its nuclear abilities was within reach.

At the same time, Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated his concern that Mr. Kerry and the Obama administration were more interested in coming to terms with Iran for the sake of a legacy-burnishing diplomatic success than in imposing the most stringent requirements possible on Iran.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Mr. Corker also ticked off elements of an agreement that Republicans would be looking for if and when it reached Capitol Hill: Will the agreement allow “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian facilities, and will there be an assessment and acknowledgment of the previous military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program?

He suggested that the administration was rushing to a meet the deadline and deliver a deal to Congress by Thursday to limit the House and Senate’s review time to 30 days rather than the 60 days lawmakers would be allowed if the negotiations ran longer.

Administration allies said they expected a deal given the significant White House investment. If Congress does review an agreement, Mr. Obama will find the Republicans a much tougher sell than he did during his recent trade victory.