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Could the historic Iran nuclear deal come on Monday?

On Sunday, there was word that the historic deal between Iran and several nations about limiting their nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions could come as early as Monday. But Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said there was still more work to be done on an agreement that would cap more than a decade of talks on U.N. weapons inspection. Bloomberg News reporter Indira Lakshmanan joins Hari Sreenivasan from Vienna.

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    Bloomberg News reporter Indira Lakshmanan joins us now from Vienna, where she's been covering the talks for weeks.

    Indira, we have got to stop meeting like this, where I ask you almost the same question: How close are we to a deal and what's happening tonight?

  • INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, Bloomberg News:

    Well, you know, Hari, it has been 16 days now of high-level talks here in Vienna, which I just want to point out is a record.

    There has never been a U.S. secretary of state involved in talks that have gone on for this long, not even at Camp David. So, you're right. It's been almost three weeks now that we have been hearing diplomats saying, it's — a deal is around the corner, we're almost there, we're almost there.

    But, at this point, I think we may really almost be there. You know, they have missed three deadlines already, but the next deadline is looming. They have given themselves through Monday to finalize all the text of a deal, which we're being told is now near 100 pages between the text and five annexes.

    And what our sources are telling us, from several of the delegations, is that the major political decisions have been made, but the writing, the legal work, the technicalities still have to be wrapped up. And, of course, capitals have to sign off on that.

    So we think that's going to be happening overnight, with a possible announcement tomorrow, if everything, if all the T's get crossed and the I's get dotted.


    Well, one of the sticking points was the U.N. arms embargo. What happened to that?


    Yes. I was told by the one of the diplomats involved in talks tonight that this issue has been resolved. That was a major issue for the Iranians, the Russians and the Americans.

    The Iranians and the Russians really wanted the United Nations arms embargo lifted, because Russia is ready to sell weapon systems, including some defensive weapon systems like the S-300, to Iran.

    And the U.S., of course, for them, this is an explosive issue, particularly in the U.S. Congress, that is going to make it hard to sell the deal.

    But what I'm told is that the U.N. arms embargo, a compromise has been come up with, and that there is an agreement that the U.N. arms embargo, not the United States one, will be lifted, not immediately, but over time.


    But you mentioned approvals back home in all these countries.

    We heard Senator Mitch McConnell earlier today say it's going to be a tough sell to Congress to try to get this through, that this would leave Iran a threshold nuclear state.


    You know, that has been the talking point all along by the people who are suspicious of this deal and didn't want any deal that would leave Iran with legal enrichment capability.

    I think that talking point gets stronger as we get closer to a deal officially being done. So, I think he's absolutely right. It is going to be a tough sell and an uphill battle in Congress. We also heard Senator Ted Cruz specifically picking on the U.N. arms embargo and saying that, if that was lifted, that there was going to be a major fight on Capitol Hill.

    So, I think all of that is true. The administration is obviously going to have to come back with what they think is the strongest deal possible, and they're going to have to sell the Congress and the American people on why this is something that actually stops Iran on all of its paths to getting a nuclear weapon and is a good deal for world security.


    And there's also some mixed messages coming out of Iran. On the one hand, we see preparations for celebration on a deal, and, on the other hand, some tough talk from the leadership about the United States and arrogance and continue the fight.


    Yes, you're absolutely right. It was just last night that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, referred to the U.S. and its so-called global arrogance and essentially said that, even if there is a deal, this doesn't mean there's going to be some sort of a rapprochement with the United States. The United States is still the big enemy of Iran, he said.

    Now, in a way, this talking point matches on some level what the United States has said in a much more diplomatic way, saying this is not going to mean detente with Iran; this is narrowly about the nuclear program.

    But we also saw Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying today that he has fulfilled his promise, that his promise that sanctions would be lifted is going to come out. So, it does look like they're putting in some very positive signs for a deal.

    And let me just say that, if they don't ultimately get a deal, then we're going to be on the end of the worst shaggy dog story in history, since this has been going on for quite some time now.


    All right, Bloomberg's Indira Lakshmanan joining us from Vienna tonight, thanks so much.



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