Deal signed to halt Iran’s nuclear drive

The nuclear accord prevents Iran from enriching uranium beyond 5 percent and gives Tehran limited sanctions relief

Randa El Tahawy
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Iran and six world powers reached a historic deal on Sunday to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

The landmark deal sees Iran committed to halt uranium enrichment above purities of five percent in exchange for some $7 billion in sanctions relief.

World powers have also agreed not to impose any fresh sanctions for six months if Iran abides by the deal.

The announcement came after more than four days of talks in Geneva between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council members plus Germany.

The breakthrough with the Islamic Republic on its controversial nuclear program does not give Tehran a right to enrich uranium, U.S. Secretary of States John Kerry said on Sunday.

“This first step does not say that Iran has the right of enrichment, no matter what interpretative comments are made,” Kerry said speaking after the agreement was struck between Iran and the six major powers.

Kerry also said that the agreement will help “make the world safer and Israel safer.”

A wary Middle East

While much of the world hailed the progress made over Iran’s long disputed nuclear program, Israel didn’t fall short on riposting.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed the agreement and called it a “historic mistake” and a “bad deal” as Tehran had obtained “what it wanted.”

Netanyahu also said that Israel did not regard itself as bound by the deal.

Israel has repeatedly expressed skepticism over the nuclear talks in Geneva that have been taking place over the last weeks. Along with the West, it believes Tehran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons.

Mehrdad Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat and Secretary General of “Green Wave” told Al Arabiya News the Israeli position is in line with its long advocacy against a nuclear Iran.

“It is Israel’s existential threat, it has a right to be concerned and have this maximized reaction,” he said.

While Israel was the first to slam the deals other experts see the nuclear agreement as a possible concern for the Arab world as well.

“The deal itself worries others in the region, both in the Arab World and in Israel. For many, it is seen as a deal that attempts to bypass the local long-term interests of Arabs, particularly Saudi Arabia, as well as Israel,” Ghanem Nuseibeh a Senior Visiting Fellow at Kings College in London and founder of Cornestone Global said.


Infographic: What's the deal with Iran?

Infographic: Whats's the deal with Iran?
Infographic: Whats's the deal with Iran?

Nuseibeh also said that those countries, in particular, will need to be convinced that their interests will be looked after during the implementation and more importantly, “subsequent to the implementation in any future dealings.”

Director of Research and Consultancy at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, Theodore Karasik, also says that Israel and the GCC states will still have the “military option” on the table.

“Given their shared interests about Iran’s nuclear program and their belief about “breakout timing” as well as future shifts in the political balance of power in the region on other issues such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria,” he told Al Arabiya News.

Work in progress

But, while the Western powers have positively welcomed the historical deal, many have urged that it be implemented in a timely manner.

Despite European Union President Herman Van Rompuy hailing the “courage” shown by Iran and world powers in reaching the deal he also urged its “punctual” implementation.

“It is now crucial to ensure punctual implementation of the agreement reached and to continue working, on the basis of the trust that is being built, towards a definitive settlement of this issue,” he was quoted as saying by AFP.

Following the announcement of the deal on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the deal was an “important achievement” but only a “first step” towards a final accord.

“This is only a first step. It is an important achievement but it is a first step,” Zarif told reporters, according to AFP.

Some analysts think the hardest part has yet to come.

Although American and Iranian diplomats are making “tremendous progress” in working together over the past two weeks more than in the past three decades, Karasik says there are issues remaining.

“This agreement is ‘interim,’ meaning the P5+1 agreed to agree. The hard work now starts and the next six months are going to be crucial. Iran will need to be more transparent than ever to the international community regarding its nuclear program,” he said.

Khonsari also sees the nuclear accord as a good start reflecting a changing tone in Iranian politics.

“It is a good start, we have to be optimistic but there is still work to be done,” he told Al Arabiya News.

Khonsari also praised the agreement as it “released Iran from the burden of sanctions.”

The deal can be viewed as positive for Iran, but as it could worry others in the region, Nuseibeh thinks the P5+1 will need to reach out to regional stakeholders, “including the Arabs, to ensure it goes achieves its stated aim of making the world a safer place.”

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