November 26th, 2013

World Leaders Praise Historic Nuclear Deal with Iran


The U.S., along with the U.K., Germany, France, Russia, China and the European Union (known collectively as the P5+1), reached a historic agreement with Iran Nov. 23 aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear bomb. The deal temporarily halts some of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and neutralizes the country’s stockpile of uranium that is near nuclear bomb capability. Enriched uranium is a critical component for both civil nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons.

In exchange, the P5+1 will provide some relief for Iran’s economy, which has been crippled with sanctions for decades.

Iran has long defended its right to develop nuclear technology, which it says if for peaceful purposes only.

“The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful,” read the preamble to the Joint Plan of Action. “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.”

President Obama praised the agreement, saying, “While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.”

However, none of the parties involved believe that their work is over. Now that the agreement has been made, all sides must work on their ends of the deal. The president acknowledged this during his speech, saying, “It won’t be easy.  Huge challenges remain ahead.  But through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also urged caution, saying, “The next phase, let me be clear, will be even more difficult, and we need to be honest about it. But it will also be even more consequential.”

New Iranian president offers diplomatic opportunity

Hassan Rouhani took over the office of president in August 2013 after winning an election in which he campaigned on a moderate platform of compromise and transparency. This was an abrupt change in tone from Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was known for his extremist views.

In his first 100 days in office, Rouhani has extended a hand to the West by engaging in conversations with President Obama, using Twitter to offer blessings to Jews on Rosh Hashanah and granting interviews to several U.S. news outlets.

He expressed satisfaction with the Geneva agreement, emphasizing that it reestablished Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

“Let anyone make his own reading, but this right is clearly stated in the text of the agreement that Iran can continue its enrichment, and I announce to our people that our enrichment activities will continue as before,” he said.

Early indications show that the Iranian people are also happy with their new leader’s direction and administration. Tehran-based Shargh newspaper reported that some 800 Iranians came to Tehran’s airport to welcome home head negotiator Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his team. Later, Bloomberg reported that hundreds of people surrounded Zarif’s car, chanting, “Dr. Zarif, thank you, thank you.”

Israel expresses deep concern over deal

However, not everyone is happy with the agreement. “Today the world became a much more dangerous place,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also called the deal a “historic mistake,” and claimed that, “Israel is not bound by this agreement.”

Israel has long fought against a nuclear Iran, since Iran has supported militant groups that aim to harm Israel and has made statements threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

“If in another five or six years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning,” said the economy minister, Naftali Bennett, according to the Guardian.

However, other countries that were expected to oppose the deal, including Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab states, are cautiously welcoming the move as a step towards stability in the region.

Israel and the Gulf Arab countries had previously formed an unlikely alliance in their opposition to a deal, and share concerns about Iran’s influence in the region.

“The government of the Kingdom sees that if there was goodwill, this agreement could represent a preliminary step towards a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear programme,” said the Saudi Arabian cabinet.

“We welcome this agreement if it will the end of the fear of any weapons of mass destruction in the region,” said Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa of the tiny Gulf country of Bahrain.

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— Compiled by Allison McCartney for NewsHour Extra

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