After years of intense negotiations, six major world powers have reached a deal with Tehran on curtailing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
In a televised address Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama praised the agreement and said it was a step toward a “safer, more helpful and a more hopeful world” and that the deal was built on verification and not trust.
“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction,” Obama said.
“This deal demonstrates that American diplomacy can bring about real and meaningful change, change that makes our country and the world safer and more secure,” he sad.
According to the White House the deal would:
- Increase the time it would take Iran to acquire enough material for a bomb from 2-3 months to at least one year
- Reduce Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium
- Reduce the number of Iran’s installed centrifuges by two-thirds
- Prevent Iran from producing weapons-grade plutonium
- Track Iran’s nuclear activities with robust and inspections
The White House said that U.N. sanctions would automatically snap back for a decade if Iran violated the deal. Additionally, U.S. and European Union sanctions could snap back if Iran violates any part of the deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani praised the deal as Iranians celebrated at home hoping the agreement will bring them relief and prosperity.
“Today is the end of acts of tyranny against our nation and the start of cooperation with the world,” Rouhani said. “This is a reciprocal deal. If they stick to it, we will. The Iranian nation has always observed its promises and treaties.”
Despite strong opposition by Israel and members of the U.S. Congress, the agreement has the possibly of radically transforming relations in the Middle East in the coming years.
The negotiations between the powers, the so called P5+1 group consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, Russia and Germany, and Iran began in 2006 over suspicions from the West that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program.
Tehran has maintained that its program was strictly for peaceful purposes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who led the movement to prevent what he perceived as a ‘bad deal’ with Iran, forcefully denounced it on Tuesday.
“The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday,” he said.
Netanyahu said the deal would give Iran “the capacity to produce many nuclear bombs, in f act an entire nuclear arsenal, with the means to deliver it. What a stunning, historic mistake.”
“Israel is not bound by this deal with Iran, because Iran continues to seek our destruction. We will always defend ourselves,” Netanyahu said.
With a deal now agreed upon by the parties, the debated will now head to Washington where members of the U.S. Congress will have 60 days to review it. President Obama said he would veto any attempt to reject the deal.
Speaker of the House John Boehner strong rejected the deal.
“Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely fuel a nuclear arms race around the world,” Boehner said.
A player in several conflicts in the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon, Iraq to Yemen, Iran has invested heavily in the region much to ire of Saudi Arabia, its arch-foe. Despite statements by Israel that it is not bound by the deal, the threat of war over Iran’s nuclear program seems to have been taken off the table, at least for the time being, with the agreement. Whether this accord brings enhanced cooperation between the West, especially the United States, and Iran is yet to be seen. Despite the uncertainly, the agreement will be seen as a victory for Iran in terms of sanctions relief and by the United States and the West as removing the threat of an Iranian nuclear program.
But for the average Iranian, the deal seems to provide hope and optimism that their country will again open up to the world and offer escape and reprieve from the depths of economic depression and isolationism.