Iran, 6 world powers reach nuclear deal
The agreement, sealed at a signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the deal, which was reached after four days of hard bargaining, including an eleventh-hour intervention by US Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China. “It is important that we all of us see the opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons based on respect, based on the rights of the Iranian people and removing any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Zarif told reporters.
“This is a process of attempting to restore confidence.” The deal, intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear pact to be completed in six months, freezes or reverses progress at all of Iran’s major nuclear facilities, according to Western officials familiar with the details. It halts the installation of new centrifuges used to enrich uranium and caps the amount and type of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to produce. Iran also agreed to halt work on key components of a heavy-water reactor that could someday provide Iran with a source of plutonium.
In addition, Iran accepted a dramatic increase in oversight, including daily monitoring by international nuclear inspectors, the officials said. The concessions not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected, the officials said. In return, Iran will receive modest relief of trade sanctions and access to some of its frozen currency accounts overseas, concessions said to be valued at less than $7 billion over the six-month term of the deal. The sanctions would be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement’s terms. In an address from the White House after the deal was announced, President Obama praised the negotiators’ work.
“Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure, a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon,” he said. “While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.” The agreement is a long-sought victory for the Obama administration, which from its earliest days made the Iranian nuclear program one of its top foreign policy priorities. The administration, helped by its overseas allies as well as Congress, achieved unprecedented success in imposing harsh economic sanctions that cut Iran’s oil exports in half and decimated the country’s currency.
It was hoping to quickly finalize an agreement in the face of threats by Congress to impose additional economic sanctions on Iran. President Barack Obama declared an interim nuclear deal with Iran an “important first step” that cuts off the Islamic republic’s most likely path toward a nuclear bomb. “These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Obama said during remarks from the White House late Saturday night. Mr. Obama pledged to hold off on imposing new sanctions during the term of the six-month agreement, a position likely to anger some in Congress who have been pushing for even tougher penalties against Iran.
“If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure,” he said. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warmly welcomed the interim agreement that has been reached in Geneva regarding the nuclear program of Iran.
Ban congratulated the negotiators “for the progress made in what could turn out to be the beginnings of a historic agreement for the peoples and nations of the Middle East region and beyond,” said a statement issued here by his spokesperson on Saturday night.
The latest round of the Iran nuclear talks started on Wednesday. After intensive negotiations, the P5+1 group and Iran have reached a first-step agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.
This was the third round of negotiations between Iran and the six countries — the five UN Security Council permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany, in more than a month.
In the statement, Ban urged the governments concerned to “do everything possible to build on this encouraging start, creating mutual confidence and allowing continued negotiations to extend the scope of this initial agreement.”
Reaffirming his unswerving commitment to strengthening nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation regime, the UN chief called on all members of the international community to support this process which, “if allowed to succeed, is likely to be to the long-term benefit of all parties.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the understanding reached between Iran and P-5 Plus One in Geneva on the Iran nuclear issue.
Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry in a statement said Pakistan has always underscored the importance of finding a peaceful solution to this issue.
He said “we have also been stressing the need to avert confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program which had the potential to destabilize our region.”
The spokesperson said understanding is an important development‚ which should augur well for peace and security in our region and the world at large.
Earlier, Iran and six world powers have reached a breakthrough agreement on curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The deal between Iran and the United States‚ France‚ Germany‚ Britain‚ China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations in Geneva.—NNI/ INP
Isolated Israel, angry with US
Jerusalem—Isolated and angry with its ally the United States, Israel Sunday bitterly denounced a “bad” nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran while repeating its threat of military action against Iran.
The leaders said they were not bound by it and reiterating the principle that Israel would be ready to defend itself without assistance against any threat.
After weeks of intense lobbying against any deal between the world powers and Iran that does not ensure the dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called the agreement “a historic mistake,” saying in remarks that were broadcast from the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
Mr. Netanyahu excoriated the world’s leading powers for agreeing to Iranian uranium enrichment for the first time and for relenting on sanctions “in exchange for cosmetic Iranian concessions that can be canceled in weeks.”
“Israel is not bound by this agreement,” he said. “As prime minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”
The foreign minister of Israel, Avidgor Lieberman, told Israel Radio that “Israel will have to make a reassessment” and that “all the options are on the table.”
“We are talking about the greatest diplomatic achievement for the Iranians,” he said. “We have to take our decision in a cleareyed, independent manner, and we have to be serious enough to be responsible for our fate. Responsibility for the fate of the Jewish people and for the state of Israel lies with the Israeli government alone.”
The Israeli minister of strategic affairs, intelligence and international relations, Yuval Steinitz, said that “like the failed agreement with North Korea, this agreement is likely to bring Iran closer to obtaining the bomb.”
“Israel cannot take part in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian duplicity and self-deception,” he said.
One Israeli minister even warned that the pact could result in a nuclear attack against the West. “If five years from now a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning,” the economic minister, Naftali Bennett, said in a statement.
Israeli outrage may have been fueled by the government’s sense of not having been kept fully in the loop by the Obama administration. Another minister, Silvan Shalom, was asked on Israel Radio if Israeli officials had been informed about the secret American-Iranian talks held over the past few months in Oman, as reported by The Associated Press early Sunday.
“It is not important whether or not we were informed,” Mr. Shalom said. “What is important is if we knew of it, and we did know.”—Agencies