Representatives of European and world powers prior to meeting to...

Representatives of European and world powers prior to meeting to pin down a nuclear deal with Iran, at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland on March 30, 2015. Credit: EPA

The United States appears tantalizingly close to a deal to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

The framework announced Thursday in Washington and Laussane, Switzerland, won't quiet all the critics of this high-stakes diplomacy. And the agreement could still collapse in the coming months as the final details are worked out. But this peaceful approach to defanging Iran deserves a chance.

As outlined by President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and others, the deal is crafted to block all pathways to a bomb. Iran would not be allowed to enrich uranium to weapons grade and would have to abandon its push toward plutonium production. The watchwords here should be distrust and verify. Iran would be required to give International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors daily access to its nuclear facilities, and carte blanche to investigate allegations of cheating. In exchange, some economic sanctions would be lifted while the final deal is worked out and implemented, with others to be phased out later. But there is no agreement yet on when or how that will work.

Those are details that matter, so Congress should use the coming months to carefully parse the fine print. And it would inspire more confidence if Iran stopped supporting terrorism and fomenting instability in the Middle East, conditions Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wanted as part of any accord. But that's more than any one deal can realistically be expected to accomplish.

The world will be safer if Iran never acquires nuclear arms. Considering that the United States and Iran weren't even talking to one another 20 months ago, some progress has been made toward that goal.