WP: The plan accepted by Iran on Sunday would accomplish something that U.S. governments have sought in vain for more than a decade: A pause, at least, in Iran’s inexorable march to a nuclear-weapons capability.
The historic agreement, described as a first step toward a more comprehensive nuclear deal six months from now, freezes or reverses progress in nearly every aspect of Iran’s nuclear program, from the installation of new centrifuges to work on critical components of a heavy-water reactor that could someday provide Iran with a source of plutonium.
Key details of the proposal, which had been kept confidential while the negotiations were underway, were publicly unveiled as diplomats concluded four days of intense bargaining over the final shape of the deal.
The concessions accepted by Iran include numerous curbs on the country’s uranium enrichment program, the source of most Western concerns about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions since the discovery of a partially completed enrichment plant near the city of Natanz.
Under the terms of the deal, Iran would stop installing new centrifuges, and also refrain from using the thousands of centrifuges that have been installed but are not yet enriching uranium —meaning Iran could use only about half of the roughly 18,000 centrifuges it currently possesses.
Those centrifuges would be limited to making only low-enriched uranium, of the kind used in nuclear power plants. While Iran would continue to make the nuclear fuel, its total stockpile in six months would not be allowed to grow beyond current levels. In practice, Iran would face a choice of either halting enrichment or converting its uranium into metal fuel plates.
In a key concession, Iran agreed to halt all production of so-called 20-percent-enriched uranium, a type of fuel that can be easily converted to highly enriched uranium used in nuclear bombs. Iran’s entire stockpile of 20-percent fuel—just under 450 pounds—would have to be neutralized through conversion into metal or blending with natural uranium to reduce its purity.
A sticking point during the talks involved Iran’s continued work on a partly constructed heavy water reactor near the town of Arak. If allowed to operate, the reactor could supply Iran with a potential source of plutonium, which, like high-enriched uranium, can be used to make nuclear bombs. Under the agreement reached in Geneva, Iran would be required to halt work on building fuel rods or other components for the facility.
Iran’s nuclear facilities would be subject to unprecedented monitoring, with daily visits by international inspectors who also would have access to recordings by remote video equipment.
In return, Iran would receive economic incentives that would be initially modest, with the prospects of more substantial sanctions relief under the comprehensive deal to be negotiated by next spring. Western diplomats estimated the value of the relief package at about $7 billion over the six months that the interim agreement is in place.
Iran would be given access to about $4.2 billion dollars of its foreign currency holdings, now frozen in banks overseas. Western governments also would ease restrictions affecting Iran’s trade in petrochemical products, precious metals, and airplane and automobile parts.
The short-term sanctions would be reversed if Iran fails to comply with the agreement, diplomats said.
Israel says Iran deal makes world more dangerous
Israeli leaders denounced the interim Iranian nuclear pact signed by the United States and five world powers as an historic mistake that does little to reverse Iran’s nuclear ambitions and instead makes the world a more dangerous place. Israeli officials stressed that they would spend the next six months — the time frame for the interim agreement — seeking to push their friends and especially the White House to reach a deal with Iran that not only curbs Iran’s nuclear ambitions but dismantles their programOdd. Israel talking historical mistakes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Sunday that Israel was not a party to the talks that ended with a deal in Geneva early this morning and therefore was not bound by the agreement that provides for the temporary, limited lifting of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran halting or scaling back parts of its nuclear infrastructure.
I feel it is a historic agreement. But, then I am not much for warmongering.
"What was achieved last night in Geneva is not an historic agreement, but an historic mistake,” said Netanyahu in remarks before his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning.
“Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu repeated a reference to his own red line by stating, “Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”
Strange. that comment from Netanyahu about the "most dangerous regime in the world" From where I sit the most dangerous regimes look to be the US and Israel..............
President Obama plans to speak with Netanyahu on Sunday to discuss the agreement, according to a senior administration official.
“The last-second amendments put into the agreement are far from satisfactory,” said Israel intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz.
Asked if the interim deal might lead to military strike by Israel, Lieberman said Israel “would need to make different decisions.”
“This brings us to a new reality in the whole Middle East, including the Saudis. This isn’t just our worry,” Lieberman told Israel Radio. “We’ve found ourselves in a completely new situation.”
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s economic minister and key member of Netanyahu’s governing coalition, said, “if a nuclear suitcase blows up in New York or Madrid five years from now, it will be because of the deal that was signed this morning.”
Is Bennett suggesting Israel would undertake a terrorist attack as retaliation for the world powers signing this agreement? By way of deception and all that? Reads like that to me.
Clandestine meetings between US and Iran set stage for nuclear deal
WASHINGTON - The United States and Iran secretly engaged in a series of high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year, in a high-stakes diplomatic gamble by the Obama administration that paved the way for the historic deal sealed early Sunday in Geneva aimed at slowing Tehran's nuclear program, The Associated Press has learned.
The discussions were kept hidden even from America's closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West.
But the secrecy of the talks may also explain some of the tensions between the U.S. and France, which earlier this month balked at a proposed deal, and with Israel, which is furious about the agreement and has angrily denounced the diplomatic outreach to Tehran.
The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice-President Joe Biden's top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials.
The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran's reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva among the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and Iran, said three senior administration officials. All spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss by name the highly sensitive diplomatic effort.
The AP was tipped to the first U.S.-Iranian meeting in March shortly after it occurred, but the White House and State Department disputed elements of the account and the AP could not confirm the meeting. The AP learned of further indications of secret diplomacy in the fall and pressed the White House and other officials further. As the Geneva talks appeared to be reaching their conclusion, senior administration officials confirmed to the AP the details of the extensive outreach.
Read more on the clandestine meetings at the above link