Is an Iranian nuclear deal imminent? (...Again?)

The State Department announced this morning that Secretary John Kerry would again be jetting off to Geneva today, for the second time in as many weeks, in order to be on the ground in the event that some kind if ‘initial agreement’ or ‘interim deal’ with the Iranians drops. CNN reports that the foreign-policy chiefs from Britain, France, and China are all flocking to the scene, too, and it appears that diplomats have made some “progress” on at least partially nailing down the outline of possible deal:

Momentum appears to be building for a breakthrough deal on Iran’s nuclear program, with top diplomats flocking to the site of ongoing talks and one Western official saying Friday a deal could be reached “as soon as tonight.” …

The hastily rearranged plans indicate that these Geneva talks are continuing past their scheduled conclusion Friday, though the hopes clearly go beyond just talking.

After talking to Ashton and the U.S. negotiating team, Kerry “made the decision to travel here with the hope that an agreement will be reached,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said. …

“It should become clear today if we want to reach to a conclusion in the ongoing round of talks or further negotiation events are needed,” Zarif said, according to ISNA. “Numerically speaking, perhaps 90% of progress has been made, but there (are) one or two issues which are of great significance.”

A major sticking point to an agreement has been Iran’s right to enrich uranium, officials involved in the discussions said.

Hmm… that’s kind of a huge sticking point, I’d say, and it may turn out that this is a lot of hype over nothing; then again, it may turn out that certain diplomats are in such a rush to secure Peace In Our Time that they don’t even care. In the meantime, however, the Senate came out swinging in support of implementing more economic sanctions against Iran in short order, despite the White House’s hardcore lobbying. On Thursday, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced he’d hold a standalone vote on a sanctions bill following the Thanksgiving recess, and shortly afterward, a bipartisan group of senators voiced their vociferous support for the move, via Politico:

“A nuclear weapons capable Iran presents a grave threat to the national security of the United States and its allies and we are committed to preventing Iran from acquiring this capability. We will work together to reconcile Democratic and Republican proposals over the coming weeks and to pass bipartisan Iran sanctions legislation as soon as possible,” the senators said in a statement.

The group includes top members of the Senate leadership like Democratic No. 3 Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican whip John Cornyn of Texas. The other senators are: Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).

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