that it had a "right to enrich" under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. But American officials signalled last week that they were open to a compromise in which the two sides would essentially agree to disagree on how the proliferation treaty should be interpreted, while Tehran continued to enrich.
In return for the initial agreement, the United States agreed to provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief. Of this, roughly $4.2 billion would be oil revenue that has been frozen in foreign banks.
This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran's nuclear programme. The fact that the accord would only pause the Iranian programme was seized on by critics who said it would reward Iran for institutionalising the status quo.
Obama addressed those concerns in his speech, insisting that the easing of sanctions could be reversed if Iran failed to reach a final agreement or reneged on the terms of this one. "Nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to," he said.
He also noted the qualms of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf allies of the United States, saying they "had good reason to be sceptical of Iran's intentions". But he said he had a "profound responsibility" to test the possibilities of a diplomatic solution.
In Geneva, Kerry said of the agreement: "It will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer."
The deal would also add at least several weeks, and perhaps more than a month, to the time Iran would need to produce weapons-grade uranium, according to estimates by nuclear experts. American officials argued that it would preclude Iran from shortening the time it would need to produce enough bomb-grade uranium for a nuclear device even further, and would provide additional warning if Iran sought to "break out" of its commitment to pursue only a peaceful nuclear programme.
A second and even more contentious debate centred on whether an initial deal would, as the Obama administration said, serve as a "first step" toward a comprehensive solution of the nuclear issue, one that would leave Iran with a peaceful nuclear programme that could not easily be used for military purposes.
Some experts, including a former official who has