Global Powers Reach Interim Agreement on Iran’s Nuclear Program
After months of previously secret high-level meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials and years of international diplomacy, global powers reached a signifcant interim agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program.
ThinkProgress has the details of the deal, which is meant to provide six months for negotiators to hammer out a final, comprehensive agreement:
According to the terms of the deal, Iran has agreed to open itself up to more and greater sanctions from the International Atomic Energy Agency, while halting the installation of any further centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Tehran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent will be diluted, and construction at the heavy water reactor in Arak will be halted. Progress at Arak, which will be able to produce plutonium when fully operational, was a key concern left unresolved at the last round of talks.
In exchange, according to the White House fact sheet on the interim deal, the so-called P5+1 — the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia — will provide “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible” relief from sanctions to Iran. This will include the release approximately $4.2 billion of Iranian funds currently being held and suspending sanctions on “gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petro-chemical exports” to the tune of approximately $1.5 billion. Embargoes against Iranian oil, banking institutions, and other financial sanctions will remain in place during the six month period the deal covers.
Polling out last week indicated that Americans overwhelmingly support an agreement along the lines of the deal reached on Saturday.
Nevertheless, Republicans and some Democrats almost immediately criticized the deal and threatened to pass additional sanctions when Congress returns next month, something which would violate the agreement and blow up the deal. Last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) explained her opposition to a new round of sanctions:
“If you want a war, that is the thing to do. I don’t want a war. The American people don’t want a war. We’ve had years in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is an opportunity to move in a different path, and we ought to try it.”
Still other critics of the deal, including Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), made the bizarre and utterly ridiculous suggestion that the years-in-the-making, high-profile international diplomatic effort was really just a plot to distract from the rollout of HealthCare.gov.
While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been sharply critical of what he called “a historic mistake,” an Israeli military official said a deal could increase regional stability.
(ThinkProgress explains how the deal would look compared to the cartoon bomb that Netanyahu famously displayed during a speech before the United Nations General Assembly last year.)
BOTTOM LINE: The first-step deal announced yesterday in Geneva represents a major achievement by the Obama administration, addressing a top U.S. security challenge. By marshaling all the elements of American power—diplomatic, economic, and military—the United States and its partners haven taken a significant step toward addressing one of the most pressing concerns in the Middle East: the Iranian nuclear program.
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