Framework for final deal reached at Iran nuke talks

A Western official said the historic accord would include limits on Iran's enrichment of uranium for 10 years

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Iran and world powers reached a framework on curbing Iran's nuclear programme at marathon talks in Switzerland on Thursday that will allow further negotiations towards a final agreement.

Reading out a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed what she called a "decisive step" after more than a decade of work. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif followed with the same statement in Farsi, and fielded questions from reporters, answering in both English and his mother tongue. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the top diplomats of Britain, France and Germany also briefly took the stage behind them.

The U.S., European powers and Iran on Thursday hailed a breakthrough in talks on reaching a deal to curtail Tehran's nuclear program.

Speaking shortly after the framework was announced, U.S. President Barack Obama heralded a the preliminary nuclear understanding with Iran as an "historic" agreement that would make the U.S., its allies and the world safer.

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-Moon congratulated Iran and world powers on the agreement while British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond hailed the good basis reached by parties which could lead to a “very good” comprehensive deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the world has “never been closer” to a deal that would prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the framework agreement was a “positive step,” but questions still needed to be answered.

Kerry took to Twitter soon after the announcement, saying it was a "big day" and that he would be "back to work soon on a final deal."

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed “good news” while the German foreign ministry said an “understanding had just been reached on key points” of an accord. After days of stalemate, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said on Twitter: “Found solutions.”

The Russian foreign ministry meanwhile said that deal in Iran nuclear talks was positive for security situation in the Middle East as Moscow hailed the 'recognition' of Iran's right to a civilian nuclear program.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said at that solutions on "key parameters" of a nuclear deal with six world powers had been reached and drafting of an agreement would begin immediately.

The text of a binding agreement "is to finish by June 30th" Rouhani added in a tweet sent minutes before a joint statement between Iran and the P5+1 group of leading nations was to be made in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A joint statement to be issued at talks on Iran’s nuclear program will say enough progress has been reached to continue the negotiations until a final deadline of June 30, according to a text seen by Reuters.

The statement is to be issued by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that all-night nuclear talks between Iran and major powers made “significant progress,” but there is no “final result yet.”

“We don’t have any final result yet,” Zarif told reporters in Switzerland. The six powers “have to examine among themselves the results of the negotiations. We don't know yet the result of those discussions.”

Under pressure

Six world powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - aim to stop Iran from gaining the capacity to develop a nuclear bomb. Tehran wants to lift international sanctions that have crippled its economy, while preserving what it views as its right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

The powers and Iran said they had moved closer, but both sides accused the other of refusing to offer proposals that would break the deadlock.

The talks - the culmination of a 12-year process - have become hung up on the issues of Iran's nuclear centrifuge research, details on the lifting of U.N. sanctions and how they would be re-imposed if Iran breached the agreement.

All sides are under pressure not to go home empty handed, but Washington reiterated on Wednesday it was willing to walk away if the sides couldn’t agree on a preliminary framework. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington: “the time has come for Iran to make some decisions.”

The talks represent the biggest chance of rapprochement between Iran and the United States since the Iranian revolution in 1979, but face skepticism from conservatives in both nations’ capitals.

Washington’s allies in the region, especially Israel and Saudi Arabia, are also deeply wary of any deal.

Even if there is a preliminary deal, it will be fragile and incomplete and there is no guarantee of a final deal in the coming months.