Six world powers reached a historic agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear capabilities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions in Vienna Tuesday.
The deal places restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facility for the next decade, but some limits phase out after that period. In 15 years, there would be no limit on Iran’s quantity of enriched uranium, The New York Times reports. But as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is supposedly committed to refraining from building a weapon.
According to The Guardian, “the conventional arms embargo will last another 5 years, and restrictions on ballistic missile technology will last 8 years.” Iran agreed to a plan for sanctions to “snap back” in 65 days, if it violates the terms of the agreement.
The U.S. and Iran compromised on the issue of inspections at Iran’s military sites. International inspectors will be allowed to “press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties,” The Associated Press reports. But this doesn’t guarantee access, because Iran could deny or delay requests.
The deal, more than 80 pages long, comes after 20 months of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 — the U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany. It is President Barack Obama’s biggest foreign policy achievement, and arguably his singular focus for these past few months.
During a press briefing at about 11 a.m. in Vienna, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the agreement was “a win-win solution on what, in our view, was an unnecessary crisis.” Zarif continued, saying, “I believe this is a historic moment. We are reaching an agreement that is not perfect for anybody, but it is what we could accomplish.”
Obama is expected to make a statement in Washington D.C., beginning the process of convincing Congress and the American public that the deal is suitable, The New York Times reported.
Congress will have 60 days to review the agreement, but before the deal was even reached, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be a “very hard sell” on Fox News.
More than $100 billion in Iranian assets could be unfrozen by the agreement, a windfall White House officials are worried about. A Department of State official told The Daily Beast, “We are of course aware and concerned that, despite the massive domestic spending needs facing Iran, some of the resulting sanctions relief could be used by Iran to fund destabilizing actions.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a vocal critic of negotiations, recently posted Tweets that likened the Islamic Republic of Iran to Islamic State, the terror organization spanning Iraq and Syria. Iran, considered a state sponsor of terrorism by the Department of State, has expanded its military involvement across the region, supporting the embattled Syrian regime, Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah terror groups, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq. (Hezbollah Stands To Benefit From Lifting Of Economic Sanctions Against Iran)
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Kerry seems willing to do “whatever it takes” for a deal in May. But opposition to the deal isn’t limited to Republicans. Pro-Israel Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Bob Menendez have voiced reservations, Foreign Policy reported.
The families of three American-Iranian citizens imprisoned in Tehran pressed diplomats in Vienna to tie any agreement to their release. Detainees include Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Christian pastor Saeed Abedini and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati. A retired FBI agent disappeared on an Iranian island in 2007, and his whereabouts are still unknown.
The Obama administration is “seeking to keep the nuclear diplomacy separate from human rights issues and concerns about Iran’s role in supporting international terrorist groups,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Due to intense media scrutiny, many details emerged on the negotiation process. Bloomberg reported emergency air-conditioning units were brought into the luxury hotel Palais Coberg during one especially hot summer day, “but it wasn’t enough to stop diplomats losing their cool.”
Kerry and Zarif were overheard shouting at one another last Monday, requiring aides to step in and request they quiet down, according to Bloomberg.
Even diplomats’ preferred snacks were publicized. The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser reported, “The US negotiating team here over the past five weeks has gone through 10 pounds of Twizzlers (strawberry flavored), 20 pounds of string cheese, 30 pounds of mixed nuts and dried fruit, and more than 200 Rice Krispies Treats.”
Kerry, who broke his leg during bicycle accident in May, hobbled on crutches during the lengthy process. America’s top diplomat visited a home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart last week and attended Mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, according to The New York Times.
Sunday marked Secretary of State John Kerry’s 16th day in the Austrian capital, the longest period any of his predecessors have spent negotiating a singular issue since Henry Kissinger pursued peace talks in the Middle East for 34 days in 1974, The Associated Press reports.
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