World powers, Iran strike preliminary deal, Obama calls it historic! (A comprehensive report)
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
On April 02 Iran and six world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – have agreed on the outlines of an understanding to limit Iran’s nuclear programs. There are positive comments form both sides: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “Found solutions and we are ready to start drafting immediately.” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: “Good news.” Mogherini said the seven nations in the talks would now start writing the text of a final accord. Mogherini cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran’s enrichment of uranium, a core concern because the material can be used in a nuclear warhead.
In the search for a comprehensive deal, the USA and five other countries hope to curb Iran’s nuclear technologies that it could use to make weapons. Tehran denies such ambitions but is negotiating because it wants a lifting of sanctions imposed over its nuclear program. Under the outline deal, Iran would shut more than two-thirds of its installed centrifuges capable of producing uranium that could be used to build a bomb, dismantle a reactor that could produce plutonium, and accept intrusive verification. Iran will gradually receive relief from USA and European Union nuclear sanctions if it complies with the terms of a final deal. Some UN Security Council sanctions would be gradually lifted, though others would remain in place, specifically those relating to proliferation.
The framework includes limits on Iran’s enrichment of uranium for 10 years. Iran agreed to significantly reduce the number of installed uranium enrichment centrifuges it has to 6,104 from 19,000 and will only operate 5,060 for 10 years under the future agreement with the six powers, according to a U.S. fact sheet. Iran would shut more than two-thirds of its installed centrifuges capable of producing uranium that could be used to build a bomb, dismantle a reactor that could produce plutonium, and accept intrusive verification. Iran will only use first generation centrifuges during that time, it said. One of the most sensitive issues during the negotiations, Iran’s research and development work, will also be limited. One of the most sensitive issues during the negotiations, Iran’s research and development work, will also be limited.
The preliminary agreement containing dozens of provisions would effectively require Iran to wind down or suspend parts of its nuclear program that could be used for nuclear weapon development in exchange for sweeping sanctions relief. The plan allows all sides — the USA, Iran and five other world powers — to continue working toward a final deal by a June 30 deadline. One problem, said Zarif, has been differing voices among the other side at the table making it difficult for them “to reach coordination.”
A fact-sheet accompanying the announcement outlined dozens of key “parameters” the negotiators had agreed to. According to the document, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium at its contentious Fordo facility for at least 15 years, and would not build any new facilities for enrichment for the same time period. The framework would allow international inspectors to have “regular access” to nuclear sites. In exchange, US and European Union sanctions would be suspended after inspectors verify Iran “has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.”
The USA and international negotiators announced the hard-fought framework for an Iranian nuclear deal, capping days of exhaustive and tense talks that blew past their original deadline. Many details still need to be worked out. Diplomats close to the negotiations said the deal was fragile. It could not be ruled out that the understandings reached could collapse between now and June 30.
True, the negotiations between Iran and six powers blew past a self-imposed March 31 deadline with no certainty that they would not end in failure. US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters many technical details needed to be worked out, including the possible lifting of a UN arms embargo and the modernization of the Arak heavy-water reactor and Fordo underground sites. US sanctions on Iran for “terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missiles will remain in place” under the future nuclear deal, the US fact sheet said.
Speaking in the Rose Garden shortly after negotiators unveiled the plan in Switzerland, President Barack Obama described the agreement as a “historic understanding with Iran” and compared it to nuclear arms control deals struck by his predecessors with the Soviet Union that “made our world safer” during the Cold War. He also cautioned, however, that “success is not guaranteed.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani welcomed the initial deal also tweeted that they found “solutions” on key issues and would start “immediately” on drafting a deal to finish by the June 30 deadline.
President Obama, who considers the deal his own achievement as US president, called the agreement a “historic understanding.” Barack Obama ran for president in part on the proposition that it was time to end the United States’ wars abroad and find ways to resolve conflicts without force. Thursday’s interim nuclear deal with Iran was the biggest achievement so far of this “open-hand” diplomacy and may have helped secure a foreign policy legacy that, for now, is mixed at best.
To make his case on Iran, Obama draped himself in the mantle of Republican presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan who struck nuclear arms control pacts with the Soviet Union. He also quoted President John Kennedy, who he said faced down the threat of communism saying “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”
White House said apart from Afghanistan, there is no foreign policy issue he had spent more time on than Iran in his six years in office. A comprehensive agreement with Iran, if one is reached, could boost Obama’s standing even as his ability to shape US domestic policy in his final two years ebbs with Republican majorities in Congress and the approach of the 2016 election.
Even as US conservatives have pilloried him for withdrawing troops from Iraq 2011 and for failing to carry out a threat to bomb Syria in 2013, Obama has stuck to his belief that diplomacy was the best way to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. “If Congress kills this deal … then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen,” he told reporters. “The American people understand this, which is why solid majorities support a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue,” he added, a reference to the many polls that reflect the US war weariness that helped elect him in 2008.
Officials of Gulf Arab states, traditionally wary of Iran, were silent about the deal. A senior Gulf Arab official said the Gulf Cooperation Council, an alliance of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, would respond soon..
As part of his post-deal diplomacy, President Obama called Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to discuss the deal and invited GCC leaders to Camp David for a summit this spring to discuss Iran. French President Francois Hollande welcomed the framework. He also called Israeli PM Netanyahu after the announcement of results by Iran and UNSC-5 plus Germany on to discuss the agreement reached with Iran to limit its nuclear program. Israel is eager to show that it is an important power in West Asia to make statements.
Racist Israel, assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, is happy nobody is questioning its own illegally obtained nuke arsenals and possibly none has got the guts to question Israel on its nukes. However, it feels disowned by the world Israel now a fish thrown out of pond again as its “existential” tactics of disrupting the talks in Switzerland but the world has won the peace in its initial phase.
President Obama with the deal, albeit only at initial stage, seems to have outsmarted Israel as well as Arab world. Obviously, nuclear Israel cannot fool the world with its “existential threat” and cannot dictate its own terms to UNSC and Germany.
The negotiations with Iran are a work in progress now. The preliminary understanding reached by Tehran and six world powers after eight days of talks in Switzerland would suspend some of the sanctions on Iran and curb Iran’s nuclear program for at least a decade. It sets out the guidelines for a future comprehensive deal, to be struck by June 30.
Obama will successfully face pressure from congressional skeptics concerned about the direction of talks and seeking a vote on Capitol Hill. Obama urged Republican led Congress to give the agreement a chance, and stressed that negotiations are not over yet. He claimed the framework, if fully implemented, would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, though that wound not ensure nuclear free Mideast as Israel remains the ME’s formidable nuclear power, threatening Arab neighbor and the world at large.
Russia said the agreement would have a positive impact on the security situation in the Middle East, with Iran be able to take more active part in solving problems and conflicts. That is the simple message from the negotiating table.