Pakistan, world welcome Israel blasts accord
Obama terms agreement an opportunity to move in a new direction
Vienna—Iran, the United States and other world powers struck a historic deal Tuesday to curb Iranian nuclear programs in an agreement aimed at easing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran hanging over the volatile Middle East. In exchange, Iran will get billions of dollars in relief from crushing international sanctions.
The accord, reached after long, fractious negotiations, marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that have called each other the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” and “the Great Satan.”
“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction,” President Barack Obama declared at the White House in remarks that were carried live on Iranian state television. “We should seize it.”
In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “a new chapter” had begun in his nation’s relations with the world. He maintained that Iran had never sought to build a bomb, an assertion the U.S. and its partners have long disputed.
Beyond the hopeful proclamations from the U.S., Iran and other parties to the talks, there is deep skepticism of the deal among U.S. lawmakers and Iranian hardliners. Obama’s most pressing task will be holding off efforts by Congress to levy new sanctions on Iran or block his ability to suspend existing ones.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, predicted the deal would embolden Iran and fuel a nuclear arms race around the world. It will be difficult for congressional Republicans to stop Obama, however, because of his power to veto legislation.
In trading Tuesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil prices were down. Iran is an OPEC member, but its oil production has been affected for years by sanctions over its nuclear program. Any easing of the sanctions could see Iran sell more oil, which could bring down crude prices.
Iran also stands to receive more than $100 billion in assets that have been frozen overseas, and an end to a European oilembargo and various financial restrictions on Iranian banks.
The nearly 100-page accord announced Tuesday aims to keep Iran from producing enough material for an atomic weapon for at least 10 years and imposes new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who did most of the bargaining with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said persistence paid off. “Believe me, had we been willing to settle for a lesser deal we would have finished this negation a long time ago,” he told reporters.
The breakthrough came after several key compromises.
Iran agreed to the continuation of a U.N. arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. A similar condition was put on U.N. restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran, which could last for up to eight more years, according to diplomats.
Washington had sought to maintain the ban on Iran importing and exporting weapons, concerned that an Islamic Republic flush with cash from sanctions relief would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America’s Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Another significant agreement will allow U.N. inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties, something the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had long vowed to oppose. However, access isn’t guaranteed and could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on.
Under the accord, Tehran would have the right to challenge U.N requests, and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers would then decide on the issue. The IAEA also wants the access to complete its long-stymied investigation of past weapons work by Iran. The U.S. says Iranian cooperation is needed for all economic sanctions to be lifted.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Tuesday his agency and Iran had signed a “roadmap” to resolve outstanding concerns, hopefully by mid-December.
The deal didn’t come together easily, as tempers flared and voices were raised during debates over several of the most contentious matters. The mood soured particularly last week after Iran dug in its heels on several points and Kerry threatened to abandon the effort, according to diplomats involved in the talks. They weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the private diplomacy and demanded anonymity.
But by Monday, the remaining gaps were bridged in a meeting that started with Kerry, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Zarif later joined the meeting, and shortly thereafter, the ministers emerged and told aides they had an accord.
The deal comes after nearly a decade of international, intercontinental diplomacy that until recently was defined by failure. Breaks in the talks sometimes lasted for months, and Iran’s nascent nuclear program expanded into one that Western intelligence agencies saw as only a couple of months away from weapons capacity. The U.S. and Israel both threatened possible military responses.
The United States joined the negotiations in 2008, and U.S. and Iranian officials met together secretly four years later in Oman to see if diplomatic progress was possible. But the process remained essentially stalemated until summer 2013, when Rouhani was elected president and declared his country ready for serious compromise.
More secret U.S.-Iranian discussions followed, culminating in a face-to-face meeting between Kerry and Zarif at the UnitedNations in September 2013 and a telephone conversation between Rouhani and President Barack Obama. That conversation marked the two countries’ highest diplomatic exchange since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the ensuing hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran.
Kerry and Zarif took the lead in the negotiations. Two months later, in Geneva, Iran and the six powers announced an interim agreement that temporarily curbed Tehran’s nuclear program and unfroze some Iranian assets while setting the stage for Tuesday’s comprehensive accord.—AP
Pakistan, world welcome Israel blasts accord
Islamabad—As Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, Pakistan welcomed the development.
“Pakistan welcomes the nuclear agreement reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the P5 + 1, said a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The statement said Pakistan has consistently maintained that the Iran nuclear issue should be peacefully resolved through dialogue.
“As a neighbouring country, we have also reiterated that reciprocal confidence-building measures relating to Iran’s nuclear programme auger well for peace and security in our region.”
Pakistan looks forward to the expeditious and smooth implementation of the provisions of the comprehensive nuclear agreement by all its signatories, added the statement.
Meanwhile, world leaders, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon also congratulated Tehran and global powers for reaching an agreement.
“It’s a very important deal that was signed overnight, the world is making headway,” said French President Francois Hollande in his traditional annual televised interview on France’s national day.
In a message to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Syrian President Basharul Assad congratulated Tehran on a deal he said would be a “major turning point in the history of Iran, the region and the world”.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the “historic agreement” could help bring peace to the Middle East.
“I hope – and indeed believe – that this agreement will lead to greater mutual understanding and cooperation on the many serious security challenges in the Middle East,” Ban said in a statement.
“As such, it could serve as a vital contribution to peace and stability both in the region and beyond.” Ban, who was in Ethiopia for a development financing summit, said the United Nations “stands ready to fully cooperate with the parties in the process of implementing this historic and important agreement.” Britain also hailed the nuclear deal and hoped the deal would trigger a significant change in Tehran’s relations with the rest of the world.
He said the agreement imposed strict limits and inspections on Iran’s nuclear programme and the international community could have confidence that the programme was, and would remain “exclusively peaceful”.
“Our focus will now be on its swift and full implementation to make sure that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach,” said Hammond.
“We recognise the concern in the region about Iran’s historic pattern of regional activity. “We will continue to work closely with our international partners to encourage Iran to play a transparent and constructive role in regional affairs, particularly in the struggle against violent extremism,” he said. Russian President Vladimir Putin termed Iran deal as a “firm choice for stability and cooperation”. “We are certain that today the world has breathed a huge sigh of relief,” Putin said in a statement published on the Kremlin’s website.
Iran, Big Powers’ Historic N. Deal