Iran, major powers strike nuclear deal

July 14, 2015 9:49 am
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International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano leaves the Palais Coburg Hotel -- the venue of the Iran nuclear talks -- in Vienna, on July 4, 2015/AFP
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano leaves the Palais Coburg Hotel — the venue of the Iran nuclear talks — in Vienna, on July 4, 2015/AFP

, VIENNA, Jul 14- Major powers and Iran struck a historic deal Tuesday aimed at ensuring Tehran does not acquire a nuclear bomb, in return for relief from crippling sanctions, diplomats said.

Iran’s arch foe Israel quickly lashed out at the agreement, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described as “a historic mistake for the world”.

The breakthrough came on the 18th day of marathon talks in Vienna between Tehran and the so called P5+1 — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

“The agreement is concluded,” a diplomat close to the discussions told AFP in the Austrian capital, where a final ministerial meeting between Iran and the world powers was under way to adopt the deal.

An Iranian negotiator also said the long running haggling had reached a “successful conclusion”.

The head of the UN atomic watchdog said he had signed a “roadmap” with Iran for probing suspected efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a key part of an overall accord.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said he aimed to issue a report on the watchdog’s investigation by December 15.

The landmark deal is expected to sharply curb Iran’s nuclear programme and impose strict UN inspections in order to make any drive to make nuclear weapons all but impossible and easily detectable.

In return, the web of UN and Western sanctions choking Iranian oil exports and the economy of the country of 78 million people would be progressively lifted.

The head of the UN atomic watchdog said he had signed a “roadmap” with Iran for probing suspected efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a key part of an overall accord.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said he aimed to issue a report on the watchdog’s investigation by December 15.

The landmark deal is expected to sharply curb Iran’s nuclear programme and impose strict UN inspections in order to make any drive to make nuclear weapons all but impossible and easily detectable.

In return, the web of UN and Western sanctions choking Iranian oil exports and the economy of the country of 78 million people would be progressively lifted.

Foreign ministers including US Secretary of State John Kerry huddled late into the night at Vienna’s Palais Coburg.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters as he arrived on Monday that there should be “no more delays”, adding that no deal could be “perfect”.

Also present were EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany — Philip Hammond, Laurent Fabius and Frank Walter Steinmeier.

The agreement is a diplomatic victory for US President Barack Obama, who made the talks a centrepiece of his foreign policy, as well as for Rouhani, a moderate seeking to bring his country in from the diplomatic wilderness.

They have faced opposition from hardliners from home, as well as from Iran’s arch-foe Israel, believed to be the only country in the Middle East with atomic bombs, although it has never confirmed it.

Netanyahu has repeated warned that a “bad deal” with Tehran would be worse than no deal at all.

“In every area where it was supposed to prevent Iran attaining nuclear arms capability, there were huge compromises,” his office quoted him as saying Tuesday about the agreement.

Saudi Arabia and other Sunni ruled Gulf Arab states are also deeply suspicious of Shiite Iran, accusing it of fomenting unrest in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Many in the United States, particularly among Obama’s Republican opponents, also say the mooted deal is too weak.

The agreement will prove a “hard sell” in the US Congress, which will have 60 days to chew over the accord, top Republican Mitch McConnell said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

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