This morning in Geneva, the six powers and Iran signed a historic agreement, under which Iran will freeze the military applications of its nuclear program for six months, in exchange for "modest relief" of the international sanctions. The temporary agreement lays the groundwork for a more comprehensive and possibly final deal that is due to be signed when today's agreement expires, said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and the heads of the Iranian delegation.
"Today, the United States - together with our close allies and partners - took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program," said US President Barack Obama. "While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal," he added.
"As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitments to our friends and allies - particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions," said Obama.
Obama said that the substantial limitations in the agreement would help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon by cutting off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb. "If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase, we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure," said Obama. "The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes," he said, adding that "huge challenges remain ahead." The signing ceremony was held at 3 am at the Palace of Nations in Geneva, following a last-minute intervention by US Secretary of State John Kerry. The agreement was reached after four days of intensive talks between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the negotiators of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany and the EU.
The agreement is expected to anger Israel and the Gulf Emirates, especially Saudi Arabia. All of efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Emirates to persuade the US and the other powers not to sign an agreement, and to tighten the sanctions against Iran instead to make it completely dismantle the components of its nuclear program, have come to naught.
US officials told "The New York Times" today that this was the first time in almost a decade that steps had been taken to block most of Iran's nuclear program, and even to roll back some key achievements. The US government hopes that the agreement will result in a thaw in relations between Washington and Tehran.
The freeze will last for six months, during which representatives of the six powers will prepared the ground with Iran on a more comprehensive agreement that will impose additional restrictions on Iran's nuclear program and create a verification mechanism to ensure that Iran will use its nuclear program solely for peaceful purposes.
Under the terms of today's agreement, Iran has agreed to halt the enrichment of uranium above 5%. To prove that this commitment is being met, Iran agreed to dismantle the systems linking the centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 24, 2013
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