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Sunday, October 23, 2016

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.

Reaching the agreement did not bury the controversy of one of the most bitterly contested diplomatic issues of the day: the European Union called it a “sign of hope for the entire world”, while Israel called it an “historic surrender”.

Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear program that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.

The agreement is a major political victory for both U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist elected two years ago on a vow to reduce the diplomatic isolation of a country of 77 million people.

But both leaders 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”.

Rouhani was quick to present the deal as a step on the road towards a wider goal of international cooperation. The deal “shows constructive engagement works”, he tweeted. “With this unnecessary crisis resolved, new horizons emerge with a focus on shared challenges.”

For Obama, the diplomacy with Iran, begun in secret more than two years ago, ranks alongside his normalization of ties with Cuba as landmarks in a legacy of reaching out to enemies that tormented his predecessors for decades.

While the main negotiations were between the United States and Iran, the four other U.N. 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 cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world,” he said. “Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.”

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal an “historic surrender”. She said on Twitter that Israel would “act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified”, a clear threat to try to use its influence to block it in the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

Congress has 60 days for a review, though if it rejects the deal, Obama can use his veto. It would require two- thirds of lawmakers to override such a veto, which means some of Obama’s fellow Democrats would have to rebel against one of their president’s signature achievements in order to kill the deal.

Iran is not likely to receive many of the benefits from the lifting of sanctions until next year because of the need to ratify the deal and verify its implementation.

“Celebrating too early can send a bad signal to the enemy,” Iranian conservative lawmaker Alireza Zakani was quoted as saying in parliament by Fars News agency.

He noted that Iran’s National Security Council would also review the deal, “and if they think it is against our national interests, we will not have a deal”, he said. “The Islamic Republic will not sign a bad deal.”

The final round of talks in Vienna involved nearly three weeks of intense negotiation between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

It was something that would until recently have been unthinkable for two countries that have been bitter enemies since 1979, when Iranian revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.


“I believe this is an historic moment,” Zarif, who was educated in the United States and developed a warm rapport with Kerry, told a news conference. “Today could have been the end of hope on this issue, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope. Let’s build on that.”

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who acted as coordinator for the powers, said: “It is a decision that can open the way to a new chapter in international relations and show that diplomacy, coordination, cooperation can overcome decades of tensions and confrontations.

“I think this is a sign of hope for the entire world.”

Hatred of the United States has been a defining trait of Iran’s ruling system, on display last week when it marked the last Friday of the Ramadan fasting month with an annual day of protests, crowds chanting “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!”.

Obama first reached out to Iranians with an address in 2008, only weeks into his presidency, offering a “new beginning”.

Iran has long denied it is seeking a nuclear weapon and has insisted on the right to nuclear technology for peaceful means, although Western powers feared the enriched uranium that it was stockpiling could be used to make a bomb. Obama never ruled out using military force if negotiations failed.

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 now be lifted.

According to a text of the agreement published by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Iran will retain the right to conduct research into enriching uranium for 10 years, without stockpiling it.


Western diplomats said Iran had accepted a “snapback” mechanism, under which some sanctions could be reinstated in 65 days if it violated the deal. A U.N. weapons embargo is to remain in place for five years and a ban on buying missile technology will remain for eight years.

Alongside the deal, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, announced an agreement with Iran on a road map to resolve its own outstanding issues with Tehran by the end of this year.

The main deal with the world powers depends on the IAEA being able to inspect Iranian nuclear sites and on Iran answering the watchdog’s questions about the possible military aims of previous research.

The prospect of an agreement benefiting Iran is anathema to U.S. allies in the Middle East. Tehran does not recognize Israel and supports its enemies. And 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.

But there is also a strong reason for the United States to improve its relations with Iran, as the two countries face a common foe in Islamic State, the Sunni Muslim militant group that has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq.

For Iran, the end of sanctions could bring a rapid economic boom by lifting restrictions that have drastically cut its oil exports, and have shrunk its economy by about 20 percent, according to U.S. estimates. The prospect of a deal has already helped push down global oil prices because of the possibility that Iranian supply could return to the market.

Oil prices tumbled more than a dollar on Tuesday after the deal was reached. [O/R]

“Even with an historic deal, oil from Iran will take time to return, and will not be before next year, most likely the second half of 2016,” Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects, told Reuters. “But given how oversupplied the market is with Saudi output at record highs, the mere prospect of new oil will be bearish for sentiment.”

(Additional reporting by Shadia Nasralla and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Nouri; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Photo: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reacts during a plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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  • yabbed

    It’s so nice to see an adult in charge of US foreign policy for a change. This is how the world can work when rational people put away the warmongering and chest thumping of the neocons and address issues intelligently. This is a very good agreement for the world.

    • Dominick Vila

      These are some of the concession and obligations imposed on Iran as part of lifting economic sanctions:

      Remove two-thirds of installed centrifuges and store them under international supervision

      Get rid of 98% of its enriched uranium

      Accept that sanctions would be rapidly restored if the deal was violated

      Permanently give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access “where necessary when necessary”

      Sanctions relief will be gradual, with an arms
      embargo remaining in place for five years and an embargo on missiles for eight years.

    • FT66

      Good for the world as business with Iran will be in place especially with the P5, even if US will opt not to get along. Sanctions will be lifted for them without any objection.

  • jmprint

    And President Obama continues to make histories first in many aspects. History will show this he is a great man, and an excellent President.

    • Dominick Vila

      This agreement, the rapprochement with Cuba, and the dramatic reduction in the carnage that was taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan alone make President Obama’s foreign policy one of the most successful in decades.

  • bobnstuff

    The Republicans will say it’s a bad deal, but all deals are bad deals if it could slow their money from Israel and it’s supporters. Israel will not be happy with any deal unless we blow Iran off the map. The republicans party is afraid of Israel but loves the money. Add in the hate they have for all things Obama and just watch what happens.

  • FT66

    The five world Powers plus US have all agreed with one voice and must be adhered to. We don’t need to listen to those who don’t like the deal, as it reminds us all what happened before going to Iraq war and the outcome of it.

    • Grannysmovin

      Boehner said this morning even though he has not read the deal, what he knows of it he will not support it, But wait he said this is not a political GOP vs Obama, but right vs wrong…LOL. The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny have more credibility than Boehner.

      • FT66

        Oh! lord is Boehner now talking? Does he know right vs wrong? Where was he when Trump has been talking nonsense and no any response from him. I think we owe Trump a big Party. He has destroyed completely their credibility.

      • dpaano

        That’s the BIG problem….the GOP (and Boehner) are complaining about the bill, and they haven’t even read it!!! Like putting the cart before the horse! Also, I believe it’s a myth that the Iranians are getting 24-hour notice before any inspections….read that somewhere and think it’s probably true.

  • nana4gj

    This is a good step, a good deal, a rational deal, and, since I believe it is better to have constructive relationships with adversaries on the important issues, it is a hopeful deal, because when there are some issues that are in the mutual interests of all, there is opportunity to resolve those that are at odds, in peaceful, civilized ways.

    I, for one, do not believe it is a sign of “strength” to make as many enemies as one can, to nurture enmity, and to keep the enemies forever.

    There is solid rationale for this deal; there are precedents for this kind of deal, and learning from previous deals has made this deal a stronger more effective deal. So, when Israel and Republicans, and others, condemn the effort and the final outcome, it does not make sense. When the world becomes a bit more safe, so does Israel; what’s good for the world is good for Israel.

    When Republicans have condemned every Presidential policy, action, proposal, piece of legislation that has passed, all with the same hyperbole and exaggeration and awfulizing, this response to any and all becomes nothing more than Instinct. They dilute and diminish and destroy their credibility and worth.

    A nuclear arms limitation deal with Iran cannot have the same horrific results as can legislation on healthcare reform that grants healthcare access to millions of Americans with consumer protections does. They cannot, equally, be a huge mistake of historical proportions, causing death and destruction.

    Sadly, Republicans no longer believe in negotiations, civilized discourse, or in the benefits of working with others, because they believe “others” are their enemy and are “bad”, if there are differences of opinions and beliefs. This attitude has caused huge problems, domestically, and poisoned the atmosphere here at home, as well as resulted in the least productive and popular Congress in US history. There is no reason to expect them to be otherwise on critical international issues.

    When not in “power” and “authority” and leadership in the White House, they create mischievous havoc. When they have been in that White House, they wreck scandalous chaos, leaving a country in debt, tattered and torn and terrified, and more enemies across the world than were there before they sat in that Oval Office.

    If they had legitimate claims and disagreements, I would have great difficulty culling it all out because their posturing has become, at the very least, a bad habit, and, at the worst, entirely destructive. Either way, it is not responsible leadership.

    • dpaano

      It’s the old saying…..”keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.”

  • charleo1

    I gotta marval at how quickly Netanyahu, and the U.S. Republican Leadership in Congress speed read thru an arms deal, years in the making, with five other World powers. And declared it tantamount to the U.S. ‘Giving the Iranians the bomb.” As Mr. Netanyahu should well know, that’s not al all what the U.S. giving a Country the bomb looks like. I think first we probably built the silos, and then, shipped the warheads, and delivery systems in, and install them. That’s my guess anyway.

    • Karen Bille-Golden

      The same Netanyahu who has been crying Iran will have nuclear capability within months if we don’t stop them. Obviously he had other plans for stopping them.

      • charleo1

        First of all, Mr. Netanyahu is blind with hatred. And secondly, has no authority to set U.S. policy of any sort. Including commandeering the United State’s military to carry out his desires for war against Iran.

        • Karen Bille-Golden


        • IKE SEMAYA

          If you think this deal with Iran is so good, then why does the deal not have UNANNOUNCED inspections in it???????? How will anyone know what Iran is doing??

          • charleo1

            Truthfully, I personally have not read the deal, and have no idea
            if it’s so good, terrible, or whatever, We do know this. There are 5 other participants, most of them our strongest allies, who signed on. And, like you, I believe when compared with the long term alternative, the deal at least needs to be given a chance. Iran has tentatively agreed. But remember, they also have their hardliners, and internal politics just as we do. But matters of war, and peace really shouldn’t be politicized. And I think that’s exactly what’s going on in Washington. The ink isn’t dry, they haven’t read it, but Speaker Boehner described it yesterday as paving the way for a nuclear Iran. He knows better. But if, Republicans scuttle this deal over internal partisan politics. Then good luck on expecting any support from our allies, or China, and Russia on sanctions. Or certainly any future military undertakings. Now, might they cheat, absolutely. But, unlike a biological program, an enrichment program is not easily hidden, or moved around. And, since Iran doesn’t have the necessary elements in country, there’s also a supple chain that will be monitored 24/7. With a provision to reestablish sanctions within a 60 day period, if they are not living up to the deal. But, I say, Let’s not get ourselves into another situation where we suspect WMDs, but aren’t sure. Then, feel like we have to go in, and wind up killing a lot of people, only to find we were wrong. Remember, the IAEA’s last report before the beginning of Operation Freedom, said the agency had found no verifiable evidence Iraq had reconstituted it’s nuclear, or bio weapons program, in the short time the Bush Administration gave them to assess, before pulling them out in order to attack. We can’t set ourselves up to go back down that road.

          • Carolyn1520

            I read the deal several times as well as opinions on it (from intelligent people not the mouth breathing puppets) and the consensus seems to be, many are quite surprised the Iranians agreed to the 8 year moratorium on the missiles and a number of the other lengthy time frames.
            So while the right and Israel are whining and saying it’s a bad deal (because it isn’t the path to war or bombing them into oblivion), it is quite a feat to have accomplished this.
            And that is really what is upsetting to the right. They could never have negotiated this or the deal with Cuba. Not in a million years!
            Obama is besting them with every move he makes.
            Can we make it 3 terms? 😀

          • Karen Bille-Golden

            Despite all odds, every dirty trick in the book and some of the most degrading insults to a President yet, I applaud our president for keeping his nose to the grindstone working toward making us a more moral nation.

          • Carolyn1520

            I agree on every point and he’s also been the epitome of grace when no one would have blamed him, had he verbally eviscerated those who did so.
            I won’t even bother to compare him to his predecessor.
            On his own, he’s been a better president than any they have had to offer in decades.

          • IKE SEMAYA

            I agree

          • johninPCFL

            Russia and China have already clearly signaled that they were not going to continue with the sanctions. Once China started shipping weapons to Iran and Russia started reselling their oil, the whole sanctions regimen breaks down.