Iran, World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal
Interior of Bushehr nuclear plant Photo: REUTERS/Stringer Iran
The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.
“It is important that we all of us see the opportunity to end an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons based on respect, based on the rights of the Iranian people and removing any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Zarif told reporters in English. “This is a process of attempting to restore confidence.”
The deal, intended as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear pact to be completed in six months, freezes or reverses progress at all of Iran’s major nuclear facilities, according to Western officials familiar with the details. It halts the installation of new centrifuges used to enrich uranium and caps the amount and type of enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to produce.
Iran also agreed to halt work on key components of a heavy-water reactor that could someday provide Iran with a source of plutonium. In addition, Iran accepted a dramatic increase in oversight, including daily monitoring by international nuclear inspectors, the officials said.
The concessions not only halt Iran’s nuclear advances but also make it virtually impossible for Tehran to build a nuclear weapon without being detected, the officials said. In return, Iran will receive modest relief of trade sanctions and access to some of its frozen currency accounts overseas, concessions said to be valued at less than $7 billion over the six-month term of the deal. The sanctions would be reinstated if Iran violates the agreement’s terms.
In an address from the White House after the deal with announced, President Obama praised the negotiators’ work. “Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure -- a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful, and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon,” he said. “While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.”
The agreement is a long-sought victory for the Obama administration, which from its earliest days made the Iranian nuclear program one of its top foreign policy priorities. The administration, helped by its overseas allies as well as Congress, achieved unprecedented success in imposing harsh economic sanctions that cut Iran’s oil exports in half and decimated the country’s currency. It was hoping to quickly finalize an agreement in the face of threats by Congress to impose additional economic sanctions on Iran.