World News

Iran Hails Deal with World Powers as Recognition of Nuclear 'Rights'

Iran's leaders have welcomed a landmark nuclear agreement with world powers, calling it a recognition of Iranian nuclear rights and the beginning of an end to international sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address Sunday that the interim deal reached in Geneva earlier in the day recognizes what Iran says is its "right" to enrich uranium.

Iran says its enrichment work is for peaceful purposes. But Israel and Western powers fear Iran could enrich its uranium to the high purity needed to develop nuclear weapons.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denied Iran's interpretation of the deal reached with Washington and five other world powers. He told reporters in Geneva the document "does not say Iran has a right to enrichment."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the deal, calling it an "historic mistake" and saying it marks the first time the international community has "formally consented" to Iran continuing enrichment.

The White House says President Barack Obama telephoned Mr. Netanyahu Sunday, telling the Israeli prime minister he wants the United States and Israel to start consultations immediately on efforts to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with Iran.

Mr. Obama told Mr. Netanyahu the U.S. remains firmly committed to Israel, which he said has good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions.

Israeli leaders see a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to their nation's existence because of Iran's frequent calls for Israel's demise.

The six-month agreement calls for Iran to neutralize its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent - a level that is a short step away from weapons-grade. But it it does not prohibit Iran from continuing enrichment below the five percent level.

It also calls for Iran not to make further advances in building a heavy water nuclear reactor in the city of Arak. Once operational, that facility could produce plutonium, another compound used to make nuclear weapons.

In return for limiting enrichment, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany agreed to temporarily lift some international sanctions that have weakened the Iranian economy.

The United States says Tehran will gain access to $4.2 billion in revenues from Iranian oil exports and $1.5 billion in proceeds from Iranian sales of precious metals, autos and petrochemicals.

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama said the Geneva agreement will place "substantial limitations" on Iran's enrichment and "cut off" what he called the nation's "most likely paths to a bomb." He said the deal is a "first step" toward negotiations aimed at fully addressing international concerns about the Iranian nuclear program.

Iranian leaders hailed the deal as the start of a process of ending years of sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and Western powers in retaliation for Iran's refusal to suspend enrichment.

Iranian state media quoted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying the agreement is a "success" attributed to "the grace of God and the prayers of the Iranian nation."

A senior U.S. official told Western news agencies that the Geneva agreement followed several months of secret bilateral talks between the United States and Iran. In comments published Sunday, the U.S. official said the talks were aimed at developing ideas to complement official negotiations involving Iran and the world powers.

The Associated Press quoted U.S. officials as saying Deputy Secretary of State William Burns began leading the secret meetings with Iranian officials in March, using Oman and other locations as venues. It said the talks intensified after Iranian President Rouhani took office in August.

President Obama's Republican critics in Congress say the nuclear deal rewards Iran without forcing it to dismantle facilities that could be used for nuclear weapons.

Some Republican senators said Congress may adopt tougher sanctions in six months if Iran does not abide by the terms of the Geneva deal.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs