Iran agrees to curbs on programme in return for lifting of sanctions
IRAN and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal yesterday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East, and which Israel called a “historic surrender”.
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations would be lifted in return for Iran agreeing to longterm curbs on a nuclear programme the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
Reaching a deal is a major policy victory for US President Barack Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist elected two years ago on a vow to reduce Iran’s diplomatic isolation.
But both leaders face scepticism from hardliners at home after decades of enmity between their countries.
While the main negotiations were between the US and Iran, the four other UN Security Council permanent members – Britain, China, France and Russia – are also parties to the deal, as is Germany.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “a bad mistake of historic proportions”.
“Iran will get a jackpot, a bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and the world,” he said.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal a “historic surrender”. She said on Twitter that Israel would act to try to stop the agreement being ratified.
Congress has 60 days to review the deal, and if it votes to disapprove of it, Obama can veto the rejection.
Final talks in Vienna involved nearly three weeks of talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Iran’s Irna news agency said billions of dollars in frozen funds would be released under the deal, and sanctions on its central bank, national oil company, shipping and airlines would be lifted.
It would retain the right to enrich some uranium, at an amount Western countries say keeps it from stockpiling enough to make a nuclear weapon, which it has denied is its aim.
A UN weapons embargo would remain in place for five years and a ban on buying missile technology for eight years.
The main deal with the world powers depends on the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, being able to inspect Iranian nuclear sites and on Iran answering its questions about possible military aims of previous research.
The prospect of an agreement benefiting Iran is a worry to US allies in the Middle East.
Tehran does not recognise Israel and supports its enemies. Arab states ruled by Sunni Muslims, particularly Saudi Arabia, believe that Shi’ite Muslim Iran supports their foes in wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
Oil prices tumbled more than a dollar yesterday after the deal was reached, because of the possibility that Iranian supply could return to the market.