What's in the Iran nuclear deal

Willie Grace | 3/3/2015, 3:19 p.m.
Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Switzerland for the second time in recent weeks for a series of meetings ...
With a crucial deadline in the negotiations over Iran's disputed nuclear program less than a month away, negotiators are hard at work in this picturesque town trying to hammer out a framework agreement for a deal.

MONTREAUX, Switzerland (CNN) -- With a crucial deadline in the negotiations over Iran's disputed nuclear program less than a month away, negotiators are hard at work in this picturesque town trying to hammer out a framework agreement for a deal.

It's a complicated process many years in the making that, as with many international negotiations, brings with it varying expectations from each side.

Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Switzerland for the second time in recent weeks for a series of meetings with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as the clock ticks down.

While Kerry and other U.S. officials have long maintained that no deal is preferable to one that can be easily broken, Kerry laid out a broad vision of what an acceptable deal to him would look like.

"Any deal that we would possibly agree to would make the international community, and especially Israel, safer than it is today. That's our standard," Kerry said Monday as his meetings with Zarif began.

What does the U.S. want?

For its part, the United States is looking for the elimination of any ability on the part of Iran to make a nuclear weapon in the future.

At the very least, the United States and its partners in these negotiations, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany, the so-called P5+1, want to extend the time needed for Iran to assemble a weapon, the so-called breakout time, to be extended to a year in order to provide enough of a gap to react to such a decision.

In an interview with Reuters on Monday, President Barack Obama said Iran should commit to a verifiable freeze of at least 10 years in its nuclear activity as part of any final agreement.

"If, in fact, Iran is willing to agree to double-digit years of keeping their program where it is right now and, in fact, rolling back elements of it that currently exist ... if we've got that, and we've got a way of verifying that, there's no other steps we can take that would give us such assurance that they don't have a nuclear weapon," Obama said.

What does Iran want?

Iran would like complete relief from the international sanctions that are crippling its economy, particularly in the wake of falling global oil prices. For Iran, anything less is a non-starter.

"Our negotiating partners, particularly the western countries and particularly the United States, must once and for all, come to the political understanding that sanctions and agreement don't go together," Zarif said Monday. "If they want an agreement, sanctions must go."

Getting the balance right on any potential deal, particularly the sanctions question, will be tricky as the United States and its allies are pushing for an incremental lifting of sanctions in order to maintain leverage to ensure Iran is abiding by the agreement.

How do the sides get to a deal?

While both sides say the gaps between the two sides are narrowing, the big remaining question is how you get to a deal that all sides can agree on.