Iran and six world powers agreed to a historic deal Tuesday that will impose limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for relief from punishing economic sanctions, marking the culmination of more than a decade of diplomacy and confrontation.
After 18 days of exhausting negotiations in Vienna, diplomats announced they had clinched the accord, and President Barack Obama hailed it as a breakthrough that would defuse long-running tensions over Iran’s disputed nuclear project.
“Today, because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region,” Obama said in a televised speech from the White House.
The international community, he added, “will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon” — an assertion immediately questioned by critics of the deal, who said the agreement doesn’t allow for the so-called “anytime, anywhere” inspections needed to fully ensure Iranian compliance.
The accord between the P5+1 –the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany — and Iran included provisions hammered out in the final hours that will lift a U.N. conventional arms embargo on Tehran within five years and restrictions on ballistic missile imports within eight years.
The agreement, the product of 20 months of intense diplomacy, runs to more than 100 pages, including highly-technical language on specific dimensions of Iran’s nuclear work.
Under the terms of the deal, Tehran agreed to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to a fraction of what would be needed to make a bomb, halt the use of advanced centrifuges for 10 years, and allow UN inspectors round-the-clock access to nuclear sites.