After days of marathon negotiations in Switzerland, foreign ministers from the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China, France, plus Germany (known as the P5 + 1 nations) and Iran emerged from closed-door talks on Thursday to announce they have reached an 'historic' framework agreement regarding Iran's nuclear program and the lifting of international sanctions.
Reading out a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed the framework agreement as a "decisive step" which sets the stage for an ultimate deal which the parties hope to finalize in June. As summarized by the Guardian, Mogherini said:
- “Today we have taken a decisive step. We have reached solutions on key parameters for a comprehensive future nuclear deal.”
- She said the solutions agreed at Lausanne create the basis of a future comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six powers - to be concluded by 30 June.
- She said the EU and US will terminate the implementation of all nuclear-related economic sanctions.
- She said the deal could not have gone forward without the political determination and goodwill of all parties.
- There will be limited enrichment capacity at the Fordow uranium enrichment site. It will be converted into a nuclear physics site, with no fissile material present on premises and international cooperation for R&D is encouraged.
- The international monitoring agency will have enhanced access to technologies to clarify past and present issues.
- A future deal between Iran and P5+1 powers will include UN security council endorsement.
- Another important area of cooperation will be in the field of nuclear safety and security.
- “We will now work to write the text of a joint comprehensive plan of action.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif followed by reading the same statement in Farsi.
The text of the agreement—officially titled "Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program"—covers four key areas: Enrichment, Inspections and Transparency, Reactors and Processing, and Sanctions.
As the Associated Press reports:
Mogherini said the seven nations would now start writing the text of a final accord. She cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran's enrichment of material that can be used either for energy production or in nuclear warheads.
Crucially for the Iranians, economic sanctions related to its nuclear programs are to be rolled back after the U.N. nuclear agency confirms compliance.
Zarif told reporters the agreement would show "our program is exclusively peaceful, has always been and always will remain exclusively peaceful," while not hindering the country's pursuit of atomic energy for civilian purposes.
"Our facilities will continue," he said. "We will continue enriching, we will continue research and development." He said a planned heavy water reactor will be "modernized" and that the Iranians would keep their deeply buried underground facility at Fordo.
"We have taken a major step but are still some way away from where we want to be," Zarif said, calling Thursday's preliminary step as a "win-win outcome."
Following the announcement, President Obama emerged from the White House and made the following statement championing the diplomatic accomplishment and the deal itself. "The issues at stake are bigger than politics," Obama said. "These are matters of war and peace."
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Watch his remarks (which begin at 21:00):
Peace groups responded positively to Wednesday's announcement.
"The success of these talks, again proves that diplomacy works," said Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action. "Instead of isolation, sanctions that don’t affect leaders or military intervention that costs vast amounts of blood and treasure and untold longterm costs and unintended consequences, the U.S. used dialogue, negotiations and the international community to solve conflict."
Calling the negotiations "notable," Martin expressed optimism that the talks could "pave the way for more discussions on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions."
Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action, said the framework was "perhaps the most significant foreign policy accomplishment of the Obama presidency, and offers the promise of a peaceful path with Iran, rather than a rush into an unnecessary war."
However, she noted, "Republican war hawks—and too many Democrats who are siding with them—are continuing their crusade against the president and trying to sabotage this deal."
As a counter to such attempts, the Win Without War coalition on Thursday unveiled a national campaign "to support President Obama and the historic framework for a comprehensive agreement that has been announced between the so-called P5+1 and Iran."
The No War With Iran campaign's stated goal is "to defeat the vigorous efforts of opponents to sabotage diplomacy and the emerging nuclear agreement before it can be finalized at the negotiating table," according to a press release.
"We—and the vast majority of the American people—stand with President Obama in the knowledge that a nuclear weapon-free Iran will be forged with diplomacy, not war," said Win Without War advocacy director Stephen Miles. "We demand that Congress take yes for an answer, stand with the President, and win without war with Iran."