Iran, six world powers clinch breakthrough nuclear deal

November 24, 2013 | By | Reply More

Nov 24, – Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough deal early on Sunday to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in what could be the first sign of an emerging rapprochement between the country and the West.

hromedia - Iran, six world powers clinch breakthrough nuclear dealAimed at ending a dangerous standoff, the agreement between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was clinched after more than four days of tortuous negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has been coordinating talks with Iran on behalf of the major powers, said the deal created time and space for talks aimed at reaching a comprehensive solution to the dispute.

“This is only a first step,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a news conference. “We need to start moving in the direction of restoring confidence, a direction in which we have managed to move against in the past.’

Hard-pressed by sanctions, many Iranians were elated by the easing of tensions and prospect of economic improvement.

US President Barack Obama said that if Iran did not meet its commitments during a six-month period, the United States would turn off sanctions relief and “ratchet up the pressure”.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warmly welcomed the interim agreement and urged the governments concerned “to do everything possible to build on this encouraging start”.

But Israel was unhappy. “This is a bad deal. It grants Iran exactly what it wanted – both a significant easing in sanctions and preservation of the most significant parts of its nuclear programme,” an official in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu’s office said.

Israeli officials, however, stopped short of threatening unilateral military action that could further isolate the Jewish state and imperil its alliance with Washington, saying more time was needed to assess the agreement.

The West fears that Iran has been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran denies that, saying its nuclear programme is a peaceful energy project.

The US said the agreement halted progress on Iran’s nuclear programme, including construction of the Arak research reactor, which is of special concern for the West as it could yield potential bomb material.

It would neutralise Iran’s stockpile of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 per cent, which is a close step away from the level needed for weapons, and calls for intrusive UN nuclear inspections, a senior US official said.

Iran has also committed to stop uranium enrichment above a fissile purity of 5 per cent, a US fact sheet said.

Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants – Iran’s stated goal – but also provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb if refined much further.

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