Iran and six world powers have concluded an agreement that will lift sanctions on Iran but place strict limits on its nuclear programme for more than a decade...
Obama vows to veto any Republican attempt to undermine deal as Iran hails ‘win-win solution’
Iran and six world powers have concluded an agreement that will lift sanctions on Iran but place strict limits on its nuclear programme for more than a decade, in a historic compromise designed to stop the spread of atomic weapons and avert a major new conflict in the Middle East.
The deal, concluded in a Vienna hotel after prolonged talks between foreign ministers, binds Iran, the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China to a series of undertakings stretching over many years. Iran will dismantle much of its nuclear infrastructure, while the UN, US and EU will take down a wall of sanctions built around Iran over the past nine years.
Iran nuclear deal: historic agreement in Vienna – live updates
Agreement to end 12-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme unveiled in Vienna. Follow the latest developments live
Barack Obama said the agreement was the best available option to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear bomb, and promised to veto any attempt by Republican opponents to undermine it. His Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, said a new phase had begun in Iran’s relations with the rest of the world.
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, described the agreement as among the most complex and consequential of the nuclear age: “[The agreement follows] nearly two years of intense negotiations involving seven nations, including two long-time adversaries, after more than a decade of false starts and missed opportunities.
“The deal is a major nuclear nonproliferation breakthrough that promises to prevent the emergence of another nuclear-armed state and head off a nuclear arms race in the world’s most volatile region.”
Among the conditions of the agreement are:
Iran will reduce its enrichment capacity by two-thirds. It will stop using its underground facility at Fordow for enriching uranium.
Iran’s stockpile of low enriched uranium will be reduced to 300kg, a 96% reduction. It will achieve this reduction either by diluting it or shipping it out of the country.
The core of the heavy water reactor in Arak will be removed, and it will be redesigned in such a way that it will not produce significant amounts of plutonium.
Iran will allow UN inspectors to enter sites, including military sites, when the inspectors have grounds to believe undeclared nuclear activity is being carried out there. It can object but a multinational commission can override any objections by majority vote. After that Iran will have three days to comply. Inspectors will only come from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran, so no Americans.
Once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has taken steps to shrink its programme, UN, US and EU sanctions will be lifted.
Restrictions on trade in conventional weapons will last another five years, and eight years in the case of ballistic missile technology.
If there are allegations that Iran has not met its obligations, a joint commission will seek to resolve the dispute for 30 days. If that effort fails it would be referred to the UN security council, which would have to vote to continue sanctions relief. A veto by a permanent member would mean that sanctions are reimposed. The whole process would take 65 days.
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Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has been leading his country’s delegation in Vienna, described the agreement as a “win-win” solution but not perfect.
“I believe this is a historic moment,” he said. “We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody but is what we could accomplish. Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”
Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the agreement would “open the way to a new chapter in international relations” and show that diplomacy can overcome decades of tension. “This is a sign of hope for the entire world,” she said.