- After arduous talks that spanned 20 months, negotiators have reached a landmark deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear program.
- The agreement, a focal point of U.S. President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, appears set to reshape relations between Iran and the West, with its effects likely to ripple across the volatile Middle East.
- Representatives of Iran, the United States and the other nations involved in the marathon talks were holding a final meeting in Vienna on Tuesday.
- Obama praised the deal reached Tuesday morning, saying the agreement met the goals he had in place throughout negotiations.
“Today after two years of negotiation the United States together with the international community has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” Obama said from the White House, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side.
- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also praised the deal, speaking after Obama finished, as televisions in Iran broadcast the U.S. President’s statement live, translated into Farsi.
“Negotiators have reached a good agreement and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true,” Rouhani said in a live address to the nation following Obama.
- The essential idea behind the deal is that in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities, Iran would get relief from sanctions while being allowed to continue its atomic program for peaceful purposes.
- After news of the deal emerged, Yukiya Amano, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he had signed a “roadmap” with the Iranian government “for the clarification of past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear program.”
So What’s in the deal?
- The deal reduces the number of Iranian centrifuges by two-thirds. It places bans on enrichment at key facilities, and limits uranium research and development to the Natanz facility.
- The deal caps uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent and limits the stockpile to 300 kg, all for 15 years.
- Iran will be required to ship spent fuel out of the country forever, as well as allow inspectors from the IAEA inspectors certain access in perpetuity. Heightened inspections, including tracking uranium mining and monitoring the production and storage of centrifuges, will last for up to 20 years.
- The U.S. estimates that the new measures take Iran from being able to assemble its first bomb within 2-3 months, to at least one year from now.
But Its Far from over
- But the deal between Iran and world powers, brokered during lengthy negotiations in a Vienna hotel, is far from the end of the story.
- Details on what terms were agreed on key technical issues weren’t immediately available Tuesday.
- The accord is expected to face fierce opposition from Republicans in the U.S. Congress, as well as from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a longstanding critic of the negotiations.
“From the initial reports we can already conclude that this agreement is a historic mistake for the world,” Netanyahu said Tuesday. “Far-reaching concessions have been made in all areas that were supposed to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability.”