GENEVA – Concluding days of intense talks, Iran and six world powers signed a deal on Sunday, November 24, to curb the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for initial sanctions relief.
“This is only a first step,” said Iranian Foreign Minister and chief negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif, Reuters reported.
“We need to start moving in the direction of restoring confidence, a direction which we have managed to move against in the past.”
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Aimed at easing a long festering standoff, the interim pact between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was approved on Sunday.
"The IAEA welcomes the agreement reached in Geneva, which is another important step forward following the agreement reached between the Agency and Iran on 11 November in Tehran," Yukiya Amano, director general of the UN nuclear watchdog, said in a statement.
"With the agreement of the IAEA's Board of Governors, the Agency will be ready to fulfil its role in verifying the implementation of nuclear related measures."
President Barack Obama said the deal is a significant step forward.
"For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back," Obama said late Saturday night.
"Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. ... And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran's nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments."
The deal has also won the critical endorsement of Iranian clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also lauded the deal struck between the P5+1 countries and Iran.
According to the White House, Iran has agreed to stop enriching uranium above 5% purity. That's enough to produce electricity, but not enough to reach the level required to make a nuclear bomb.
Yet, contrary to what Obama said, Rouhani said "all sanctions will be lifted" as part of the deal.
"This right has been explicitly stipulated by this agreement, stressing that Iran will go on with enrichment," he said.
"Enrichment will proceed similar to in the past."
“We don't know all the details yet, but the Saudi government has been very concerned about these negotiations with Iran and unhappy at the prospect of a deal with Iran,” a Saudi government official was quoted by the CNN.
“There is a lot of worry right now about threats to the region.”
Israel, a close US ally, expressed huge criticism to the US stance on the pact.
“What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
“For the first time, the leading nations in the world agreed to the enrichment of uranium in Iran by ignoring the decisions of the (UN) Security Council that they themselves led.”
Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the current deal "is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb.
"Israel cannot participate in the international celebration, which is based on Iranian deception and the world self-delusion," Steinitz said.
Naftali Bennett, the Israeli minister of trade and industry, was even harsher.
"If in five years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid," he said Sunday, "it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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