Tehran and world powers reach solutions on Iran nuclear program

Iran and international powers have reached “solutions on key parameters” of Tehran’s nuclear program following eight-day talks in Switzerland, according to a joint statement issued by the negotiators on Thursday.

During the media conference EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the deal achieved as a result of the talks creates the basis of a future comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and six powers which is to be concluded by a June 30 deadline.

The agreement envisages the Fordow facility being converted into a nuclear physics center with no fissile material. It was agreed that the Natantz facility would remain as the only uranium enrichment complex in the country. Under the deal Tehran was obliged to refrain from creating nuclear weapons.

"An international joint venture will assist Iran in redesigning and rebuilding a modernized Heavy Water Research Reactor in Arak that will not produce weapons grade plutonium. There will be no reprocessing and the spent fuel will be exported," according to the joint statement.

US and EU are to lift Iran sanctions after the signing of the deal on June 30 and after IAEA verification, said Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

“The EU will terminate the implementation of all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions and the US will cease the application of all nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions, simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation by Iran of its key nuclear commitments,” the joint statement said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov considered the talks promising.

“The results are encouraging and this agreement serves a political framework that identifies the most pressing points: the problem of enrichment, nuclear energy development and research, the issues of transparency and full control of the IAEA for the implementation of agreement,” Lavrov told journalists in the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek. “In return sanctions on Iran will be lifted,” he added.

UN Security Council resolutions on Iran will be also terminated under the future comprehensive deal, Zarif added.

“It will be an end to all UN resolutions against Iran,” Zarif said clarifying the exact numbers of the documents – from 1696 to 1929.

“Iran and the US relations have nothing to do with this,” said Zarif answering a reporter’s question on the strained relations between the two countries. “We have built mutual mistrust in the past,” he said adding the he hopes “some of that mistrust could be remedied” through the implementation of the nuclear agreement.

“We have discussed a reciprocal mechanism” if there is a “material breach” or significant “incompliance” with the agreement, he said. “The elaborate mechanism will not allow excuses,” he added.

IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano, has welcomed the framework nuclear deal saying that his agency “will be ready to fulfill its role in verifying the implementation of nuclear related measures, once the agreement is finalized.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier said on Twitter that drafting of the agreement is to start immediately, with a June 30 deadline for finishing the process.

“Found solutions. Ready to start drafting immediately,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter ahead of the press conference on the results of the talks in Switzerland on Thursday.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has also stayed in Switzerland, said that the framework deal with Iran is a “big, decisive step forward.”

P5+1 and Iran representative pose prior to the announcement of an agreement on Iran nuclear talks on April 2, 2015 at the The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.(AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini )

The deal would help the security situation in the Middle East, partly because Tehran would now be able to take more active part in efforts to solve conflicts in the region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the agreement brokered in Lausanne could “enable all countries to cooperate urgently to deal with the many serious security challenges they face.”

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, US President Barack Obama said that a historic deal has been reached over Iran's nuclear deal. He said the deal is based not on trust, but on "unprecedented verification" and called it "the best deal by far."

US Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the deal by saying that a political understanding has been reached and it is a solid foundation for “good deal we are seeking” between Iran and world powers.

France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the framework agreement with Iran is a “positive step”, but questions and details still need to be resolved.

Israel voiced discontent on Thursday calling the deal detached from reality adding that it continues to oppose any nuclear program in Iran.

The smiles in Lausanne are detached from wretched reality in which Iran refuses to make any concessions on the nuclear issue and continues to threaten Israel and all other countries in the Middle East,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement after the announcements. “We will continue with our efforts to explain and persuade the world in hopes of preventing a bad (final) agreement.”

The group of countries known as “P5+1” – the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – have been trying hammer out an accord with Iran to restrict the country’s nuclear program in return for a lifting the economic blockade imposed by the UN for nearly 18 months.

The talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne finished on their eighth day on Thursday.

The talks are a big step forward towards rapprochement between Washington and Tehran, who have had uneasy relations since Iran’s 1979 revolution.

However, the White House has been criticized by the Republican-led Congress over the Iran talks. In March, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to address Congress without White House approval, and blasted the talks in his speech continuing on his mission to derail a much sought-after agreement with Iran.

The Israeli PM, who is implacably opposed to a nuclear Tehran, has in the recent past tried to involve the US Congress to impede a diplomatic solution offered by the P5+1 negotiations. Following his visit to Washington, 47 Republican senators signed a letter written by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, which threatened to pull any nuclear deal reached with Iran, once President Barack Obama leaves office.

In February, Obama’s cabinet publicly voiced discontent with Israeli’s “selective sharing of information” and “cherry-picking” concerning the P5+1 talks.

While Israel has never publicly admitted to having a nuclear arsenal, maintaining the policy of “nuclear ambiguity,” it is widely believed to be the only power possessing the atomic bomb in the Middle East.

International Law Professor at Georgetown University Daoud Khairallah believes that the deal engenders trust between Iran and the rest of the world and that it will help create an environment for rational peaceful problem solving in the Middle East.

Khairallah also criticized Israel for hypocrisy on the nuclear issue.

“They had made an environment of tension based on vilifying Iran and creating in Iran a scarecrow and a nuclear threat to the whole world. Whereas Israel sits on a huge pile of nuclear weapons.”