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Iran also agreed not to increase its stockpile of lower-enriched uranium and not to set up new centrifuges at its enrichment plants as well as to rigorous oversight of the implementation of its commitments by the U.N. nuclear agency.

Sanctions to be suspended in return over the duration of interim agreement include those on Iran’s petrochemical exports, its trade in gold and precious metals, its car industry and the supply of parts for Iran’s civil aviation industry. There will be no new sanctions as long as the first step deal remains in effect.

For the U.S. administration, successful talks would be a major step toward rapprochement with a country that transformed from a close regional partner to a bitter rival after the 1979 revolution that toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and installed the Islamic Republic under the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Critics in the U.S. and Israel will be closely watching the negotiations, fearful that the White House might concede too much in hope of striking a historic bargain. Hardliners in Iran are also wary of any deal they see as rolling back Iran’s hard-won nuclear accomplishments.

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Margaret Childs in Vienna contributed to this report.