London, 14 Jul – Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of negotiations to curb Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
US President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a “more hopeful world” and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said it proved that “constructive engagement works”. But Israel pledged to do what it could to halt what it called an “historic surrender”.
The agreement will now be debated in the U.S. Congress, but Obama said he would veto any measure to block it.
“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction”, Obama said. “We should seize it”.
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
For Obama, the diplomacy with Iran, begun in secret more than two years ago, ranks alongside his normalisation of ties with Cuba as landmarks in a legacy of reconciliation with foes that tormented his predecessors for decades.
“History shows that America must lead not just with our might but with our principles”, he said in a televised address. “Today’s announcement marks one more chapter in our pursuit of a safer, more helpful and more hopeful world”.
Republicans lined up to denounce the deal. Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, a senator from South Carolina, called it a terrible deal that would make matters worse. Former senator Rick Santorum, another candidate, said the administration had capitulated to Iran.
“I understand the heavy lift that’s involved”, Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters when asked about the chances of passing a “resolution of disapproval”.
Corker said after the deal was announced that the committee would review it closely and he would begin “from a place of deep skepticism” about whether the agreement actually meets the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
Other leading Republicans went much further in their criticism. John Boehner, the speaker of the House, said Obama had abandoned his own goals for the negotiations and promised to fight a bad deal.
“Instead of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, this deal is likely to fuel a nuclear arms race around the world”, he said in a statement.
The Republican-controlled Congress has 60 days to review the accord, but if it votes to reject it Obama can use his veto, which can be overridden only by two-thirds of lawmakers in both houses. That means dozens of Obama’s fellow Democrats would have to rebel against one of their president’s signature achievements to kill it, an unlikely prospect.
While the main negotiations were between the United States and Iran, the four other U.N. Security Council permanent members, Britain, China, France and Russia, are also parties to the deal, as is Germany.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters that the deal was about more than just the nuclear issue:
“The big prize here is that, as Iran comes out of the isolation of the last decades and is much more engaged with Western countries, Iranians hopefully begin to travel in larger numbers again, Western companies are able to invest and trade with Iran, there is an opportunity for an opening now”.
Top Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi on Tuesday warned that an agreement reached earlier in the day between the world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear projects would “not close the mullahs’ path to deception and access to a nuclear bomb”.
“Despite many shortages and illegitimate concessions to the mullahs, the nuclear deal struck by the P5+1 and the Iranian regime forces [Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei to retreat and violate the declared redlines he had repeatedly insisted on over the past 12 years, including in recent weeks”, Rajavi said in a statement.
Rajavi said that circumventing six UN Security Council resolutions and coming up with an “unsigned agreement that is not internationally binding as a treaty would neither block the mullahs’ path to deception nor their access to the nuclear bomb. However, as the Iranian Resistance has always pointed out, such a small retreat will shatter Khamenei’s hegemony in the regime and undermine the mullahs’ religious fascism in its entirety”.
“Had the P5+1 been more decisive, the Iranian regime would have no way but to fully retreat and permanently give up its efforts to acquire the nuclear bomb. Specifically, it would have had do halt all uranium enrichment and shut down its bomb-making projects”.
“The P5+1 should now insist on evicting the regime from the Middle East and prevent its interferences in the region. This is a fundamental principle that needs to be included in any agreement”, Rajavi added.
Based in part on wire reports