Iran, big powers clinch landmark nuclear deal
Joe Klamar (POOL/AFP)
Major powers clinched a historic deal Tuesday aimed at ensuring Iran does not obtain the nuclear bomb, opening up Tehran's stricken economy and potentially ending decades of bad blood with the West.
US President Barack Obama said the nuclear deal with Iran offered a chance to move in a "new direction" in relations with Tehran, but promised a skeptical Israel that Washington would not abandon it.
"We have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region and we will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic will not develop nuclear weapons," Obama said. His address to the nation was aired on Iranian state television live.
“This agreement is not built on trust, it is built on verification. Inspectors will have 24/7 access to Iran’s key nuclear sites,” he added.
The US president nevertheless promised to "continue our unprecedented efforts to strengthen Israel's security, efforts that go beyond what any administration has done before."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking in a live televised address shortly after Obama, said that "God has accepted the nation's prayers". The agreement, he said, would result in the lifting of all economic sanction on Iran and pave the way for cooperation with the world. "Israel," he added, "failed."
Reached on day 18 of marathon talks in Vienna, the accord is aimed at ending a 13-year standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions after repeated diplomatic failures and threats of military action.
"With courage, political will and mutual respect, we delivered what the world was hoping for," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. "Hope and determination enabled us to overcome all the difficult moments."
It was hailed by Iran and the European Union as a new chapter of hope for the world but branded a "historic mistake" by the Islamic republic's archfoe Israel.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said "the world can now breathe a sigh of relief". But Israel's government, issuing angry reactions, convened an urgent meeting of its security cabinet to be briefed on the agreement and discuss its implications.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Iran's breakout time - the time it needs to produce a nuclear weapon - will be 12 months for ten years and will remain "significant" for the following five years. Iran confirmed that the deal cuts the number of its centrifuges - the machines that enrich uranium to weapons-grade level - by two-thirds for ten years.
Rouhani hailed the deal, stating it will open "new horizons" now that "this unnecessary crisis" has been resolved.
The foreign ministers of Iran and the six powers met in festive session at the UN center in Vienna and then held a news conference.
Diplomats said a UN arms embargo would remain in place for five years and UN missile sanctions would stay in place for eight years.
"There was a compromise reached between Iran and Western colleagues which we supported... five years, but during the five years arms deliveries to Iran would be possible if they clear a notification and verification process in the UN Security Council," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists.
The UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, meanwhile announced that a 'roadmap' had been signed with Iran for a probe into past nuclear activities.
Iran's state news agency IRNA also said the country's nuclear facilities would remain operational.
"All of Iran's nuclear facilities will continue working. None will be stopped or eliminated ... Iran will continue enrichment ... Research and development on key centrifuges (IR6, IR-5, IR4, IR 8) will continue," IRNA said in what it said was a summary of the deal, without citing a source.
Reaching a deal is a major policy victory for both US President Barack Obama and Rouhani, a pragmatist elected two years ago on a vow to reduce the diplomatic isolation of a country of 77 million people.
But both men face skepticism from powerful hardliners at home after decades of enmity between nations that referred to each other as "the Great Satan" and a member of the "axis of evil."
Obama said in his statement that he would veto any congressional objection to the deal, because the alternative to the agreement is war.
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We all know what the "sticking" points are done we? we want the nuclear bomb! we want to destroy Israel! We want to destroy America! We want to destroy everybody who doesnt agree with us!
WAKE UP AMERICA! ISRAEL WOKE UP YEARS AGO TO THE THREAT OF SADDAM HUSSEINS DESIRE FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS,, REMEMBER?
North Korea.....All over again. When will the madness end?