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23 November 2013

Iran Agrees to Historic nuclear deal.

Iran and world powers struck an accord today that broke a decade-long diplomatic stalemate, setting limits on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from sanctions.

The agreement was announced by diplomats including Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his French counterpart Laurent Fabius and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in the early hours of today, the fifth day of meetings in Geneva. Details weren’t immediately available. 

It’s the first accord to be reached since Iran’s nuclear program came under international scrutiny in 2003, and may help to avert the risk of another Middle East war or a nuclear arms race in the Persian Gulf. Western nations have accused Iran of harboring nuclear-weapons ambitions, a charge it denies, and the U.S. and Israel have said they are willing use force if needed to prevent that from happening.
The accord was reached after foreign ministers from the U.S., Europe, China and Russia made unscheduled trips to Geneva to push the third round of talks in six weeks to a conclusion. It’s intended as a first step toward a comprehensive agreement, and is reversible if the reciprocal measures aren’t taken. 

Under discussion in Geneva were steps by Iran to allow more nuclear monitoring and limit enriched-uranium capacity and stockpiles. Its interlocutors said they were ready to ease some of the trade curbs that have pushed the Islamic Republic’s economy into recession.
Even limited detente between the U.S. and Iran, which holds the world’s No. 4 proven oil reserves, may portend shifting fortunes in the Middle East. Israel and Saudi Arabia, both longtime U.S. allies, have opposed any deal that allows Iran to retain sensitive nuclear technologies.
Saudi Arabia is fighting a proxy war with Iran in Syria, supporting the rebels fighting to oust Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad, and has expressed frustration with U.S. reluctance to back the cause. Israel has signaled it’s ready to take unilateral military action against Iran to halt a nuclear program it says is a threat to its existence. 

“A bad deal definitely increases the need for action,” Israeli Trade & Industry Minister Naftali Bennett said yesterday. “If the deal gives Iran the ability to achieve a bomb within six weeks we won’t be able to sit idly by. We will examine all possibilities.”
Opponents of a thaw with Iran have support in the U.S. Congress, where legislators from both parties have pledged to seek tighter sanctions. It’s not clear whether they’ll abandon or escalate those efforts as a result of the Geneva accord.
Iranian hardliners have also expressed skepticism over any accord that limits the country’s nuclear work.


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