After 20 months of negotiations, four target dates and three extensions, Iran, the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom announced that they reached a historic deal on Tuesday that will limit Tehran’s nuclear ability, in exchange for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.
Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said “Today is a historic day,” and called it a great honor “for us to announce that we have reached an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif agreed that the deal is a “historic moment,” but cautioned that it was “not perfect.” He concluded, “Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.”
Addressing the deal from the White House on Tuesday morning, President Obama said it “is not built on trust, it is built on verification,” and that in addition to cutting off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon, the terms of the agreement state that Iran will remove two-thirds of its installed centrifuges and will dispose of 98 percent of its stockpile of uranium. As a result, Obama said that Iran will receive “phased in sanctions relief.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told media in Vienna that although Russia and China pushed to end an arms embargo on Iran as soon as possible, “the West insisted that the embargo should stay,” the Iranians “agreed to compromise” and the embargo will be kept in place for the next five years, during which Iran will be able to import arms during that time “on the condition of the notification and the verification with the U.N. Security Council.”
Throughout the process of negotiations, the deal has faced opposition from congressional Republicans. Congress now has 60 days to review the provisions in the deal before Obama can begin removing congressional sanctions.
Obama said that he would veto any congressional legislation seeking to block the agreement and that no deal “means a greater change of more war” in the Middle East.