Iran Nuclear Deal Concludes In Historic Announcement
, July 14th
Iran reached a historic deal with six world powers on Tuesday that promises to curb Tehran’s controversial nuclear program in exchange for economic sanctions relief.
The accord was announced on Tuesday by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union's policy chief Federica Mogherini in a joint statement in the Austrian capital.
Zarif acknowledged that the final agreement wasn't perfect, but described the announcement as a "historic moment."
"Today could have been the end of hope," he said, "but now we are starting a new chapter of hope."
The breakthrough comes after months of thorny negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.
Under the deal, Tehran’s nuclear ability would be significantly limited for more than a decade, The New York Times reported. In return, the six world powers would agree to lift international oil and financial sanctions against Iran
Tehran would also allow inspectors from the U.N's International Atomic Energy Agency to seek visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties, a senior diplomat told The Associated Press. However, such visits could be denied or delayed by the Iranian government. In such cases, an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers would have to be convened to determine the right of access.
The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog announced early Tuesday that a "roadmap" had been signed between it and Iran.
"This is a significant step forward toward clarifying outstanding issues regarding Iran's nuclear program," Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, said.
In addition, Iran accepted a "snapback" plan that will restore sanctions in 65 days if it violates the accords, Reuters reported.
"All the hard work has paid off and we sealed a deal. God bless our people," the diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The deal is the culmination of years of delicate negotiations between formerly bitter enemies U.S. and Iran, as well as negotiators from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany.
For more than a decade, international powers have raised concerns that Tehran is using its nuclear enrichment program to build a nuclear weapon. Iran says the program is solely for peaceful purposes such as energy and medicine.
International sanctions imposed over the country’s nuclear work have hampered Iran's economy and in 2013 Tehran agreed to freeze some nuclear activities in exchange for partial sanctions relief.
The 2013 agreement, the first between Iran and the U.S. in more than three decades, paved the way for a framework agreement in April, and Tuesday's comprehensive nuclear accord.
The deal still faces several hurdles. Opponents of the talks in the U.S. Congress have vowed to thwart any agreement that they deem has not gone far enough to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb. Congress now has 60 days to review the deal before President Barack Obama can start removing congressional sanctions. Iran says it won't implement its end of the deal until sanctions are removed and supporters of the nuclear accord fear that prolonged delays could strengthen hardliners in Washington and Tehran.
The deal also has its detractors all over Iran’s neighborhood. The most outspoken of them is Israel, whose leaders have fought hard to obstruct a nuclear accord. They saythe deal’s lax restrictions will actually help Iran build a bomb, while sanctions relief will allow Iran to funnel more funds to terrorist groups in the region.
On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal "a bad mistake of historic proportions."
Miri Regev, Israel's culture and sports minister, said the nuclear deal gives the Islamic Republic a "license to kill" and was "bad for the free world (and) bad for humanity," AP reported.
Gulf powers, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are also wary that their longtime rival will be strengthened by a rapprochement with the international community and have quietly voiced their concerns that a deal with Iran would tip the balance of power in the region.
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