News / Middle East

Iran Nuclear Deal Sealed After Decades-Long Dispute

Iran Nuclear Deal Sealed After Decade-Long Disputei
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November 24, 2013 12:54 PM
Iranian and international negotiators capped nearly a decade of dispute over Iran's nuclear program early Sunday, reaching agreement on first steps to curtail it and to ease economic sanctions. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from Geneva where the accord was reached after four days of marathon high-level negotiations.
Iran Nuclear Deal Sealed After Decade-Long Dispute
Al Pessin
Iranian and international negotiators have reached agreement on first steps to curtail Iran's nuclear program and ease economic sanctions, after four days of marathon high-level negotiations in Geneva that ended after 2 o'clock Sunday morning.

The foreign ministers of six of the world's most powerful countries stood side-by-side with their Iranian counterpart and the European Union's foreign policy chief to announce the accord, followed by handshakes and hugs all around.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, third from left, delivers statement during ceremony marking deal between Iran, six world powers, United Nations, Geneva, Nov. 23, 2013.EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, third from left, delivers statement during ceremony marking deal between Iran, six world powers, United Nations, Geneva, Nov. 23, 2013.
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EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, third from left, delivers statement during ceremony marking deal between Iran, six world powers, United Nations, Geneva, Nov. 23, 2013.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, third from left, delivers statement during ceremony marking deal between Iran, six world powers, United Nations, Geneva, Nov. 23, 2013.
This first-stage agreement, capping decades of dispute over Iran's nuclear program, came at the end of four days of what diplomats called “very tough” negotiations. The foreign ministers of all six nations of the U.N. Security Council's contact group flew in on short notice to seal the deal, from Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

A key dispute that delayed the agreement was over Iran's claim to a right to enrich uranium, which the United States says does not exist for any country.  Secretary Kerry says there is no such right in the agreement.

“This first step does not say that Iran has a right to enrichment," said Kerry. "No matter what interpretive comments are made, it is not in this document.”

At a news conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke passionately about the right to enrich. But his phrasing indicated that the agreement recognizes Iran's program, but not any right.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United Nations Palais in Geneva, Nov. 24, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United Nations Palais in Geneva, Nov. 24, 2013.
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United Nations Palais in Geneva, Nov. 24, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United Nations Palais in Geneva, Nov. 24, 2013.
Zarif said, “Many times, at least twice very explicitly this recognition is there that Iran will have an enrichment program. And we believe that to be our right and we are exercising that right and we only require respect for that right.”

According to a U.S. summary of the accord, Iran will have to destroy its entire stockpile of near weapons grade uranium, stop production of even lower enriched uranium, stop construction and installation of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, and freeze construction of a new reactor that could produce plutonium, another nuclear bomb fuel. The summary says Iran also agreed to unprecedented inspections to ensure compliance.

In return, the United States says the international community will not impose any new economic sanctions for the six-month duration of the accord, and will suspend some sanctions on gold and some other precious metals, Iran's auto industry and its petrochemical exports.

The main sanctions, on Iran's oil exports and its financial sector will remain in place.

At London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, Iran watcher and nonproliferation expert Mark Fitzpatrick says what is important now is for the two sides to faithfully implement the preliminary agreement.

“Implementing it will show that they both mean what they say," said Firzpatrick. "It'll be very important that the two sides carry it out so that both sides can show their doubters - and both sides have real skeptics and doubters - that the other side can strike a deal and keep to it.”

But skeptics in Tehran and Washington are only part of the problem. Others, including the Israeli government and Gulf Arab states, say Iran may not accept any further limits on its nuclear program once it has the initial sanctions relief.

U.S. officials say the incentive to work on the next and final agreement will continue because the most damaging sanctions will remain in place. At the International Crisis Group, Iran analyst Ali Vaez agrees.

“Iran will have the motivation to come back and negotiate the comprehensive agreement, which is much more difficult to negotiate and would require much more painful concessions,” said Vaez.

Those concessions, and potentially, an end to all nuclear-related sanctions, are to come in continuing negotiations with a six-month deadline, but as “tough” as diplomats say these talks were, the next round is expected to be even tougher.

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Comments
     
by: Change Iran Now from: USA
November 24, 2013 10:26 PM

The full implementation of Security Council resolutions, particularly the complete halt to uranium enrichment, agreeing to the Additional Protocol, and the IAEA inspectors’ unhindered access to suspected nuclear centers and facilities are essential for the regime to abandon nuclear weapons. Any leniency, hesitancy and concessions by the international community will prompt Khamenei to once again move towards manufacturing nuclear weapons through deception and cheating.

by: 79 in your face from: Iran
November 24, 2013 9:52 AM
It doesn't matter now what Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries think... its over for them. soon Iran will get the bomb and than we will see. Now we know that the "fearsome American dog" has been muzzled. Israel will never attack without an American say so... so now, all the rest can go to hell.

by: N. Holenbrook from: UK
November 24, 2013 9:44 AM
hey what did I tell you about France..?? despicable.
All that the Iranian clerics wanted is to secure their own survival. And Obama, instead of ridding the world of this revolting filth of evil theocratic menace, has secured their survival... to the detriment of all of us and of the poor Iranian imbeciles - by the way, the Iranian citizenry is considered imbecilic by the Iranian clerics... really!!!
its amazing that the Iranians will defend a fascist regime that considers them to be absolute imbeciles ...

by: Dr. V. S. from: MSU Russia
November 24, 2013 9:13 AM
The US has just guaranteed the survival of one of the most despicable fascistic regimes in history. If the Saudis are smart (yeah, I know...) they will find some passage in their Koran that compel them to make peace with Israel; such that a combination of their incredible wealth could be combined with the brain power of Israeli might to convert this silly Iranian diplomatic victory into ashes in the Iranians mouth. We all know, and Putin above all, that this "agreement" like the rest of Obama is hollow, and Israel's skepticism of its viability will be proved correct...

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