Leaders representing six world nuclear powers (the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) agreed on Sunday to a historic nuclear deal with Iran, following days of talks and months of secret negotiations over the country’s disputed enrichment program. According to France’s foreign minister, the European Union may begin easing sanctions against Iran as soon as December. The AP reports:
“A Europe-wide decision is necessary” to ease EU sanctions on Iran, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio. “That’s expected in several weeks, for a partial lifting that is targeted, reversible.”
Sunday’s resolution will lift some of the EU, U.N. and U.S. sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy in exchange for increased transparency of the program, which global leaders have long-feared is aimed at developing nuclear capability — a charge Iran denies. The deal will last six months, giving Iran the opportunity to prove a commitment to increasing transparency while world powers work on a permanent solution.
Iran has agreed to cap uranium enrichment at five percent; a level both comfortably beneath the rate that could lead to nuclear weaponry and agreeable to Iranian leadership. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, "No matter what interpretations are given, Iran's right to enrichment has been recognized.”
Relations between the U.S. and Iran have warmed since the election of Rouhani, a relative moderate who replaced controversial former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in August. President Obama, who exchanged letters with Rouhani in an early sign of friendship months ago, said the agreement “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, predictably, was not a fan of the resolution, calling it a “historic mistake.” Obama reportedly called his frenemy after the Israeli leader made his statement, telling Netanyahu that Washington “will remain firm in our commitment to Israel, which has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions.” Members of Congress have tepidly welcomed the deal, but have said that they may renew sanctions against Iran next month anyway, contra Obama’s recommendations. Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry can go ahead and brush off his shoulders, having pulled off one of his key diplomatic goals in rather spectacular fashion.