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World powers, Iran clinch 'historic' nuclear accord

25 November, 2013

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GENEVA: Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief in a breakthrough deal with world powers reached Sunday after a decade of failed diplomacy and rising tensions.

US President Barack Obama said the preliminary accord clinched in marathon Geneva talks was "an important first step" towards easing fears once and for all that Tehran will get the bomb. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose elections in June raised big hopes for a thaw with the West, said on Twitter that the breakthrough was made possible by the "Iranian people's vote for moderation" and that it would "open new horizons".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, however, immediately called the agreement struck in Geneva a "bad deal", saying it still left the Islamic republic with the capacity to make a nuclear weapon. Under the deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany announced at 3:00 am Geneva time (0200 GMT), Tehran will limit uranium enrichment – the area that raises most suspicions over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons drive - to low levels.

It will neutralise its entire stockpile of uranium enriched to medium 20-percent purities - close to weapons-grade - within six months. Iran will also not add to its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, nor install more centrifuges or commission the Arak reactor. UN atomic inspectors will also have additional, "unprecedented" access.

Iran will get some $7 billion in sanctions relief and the powers promised to impose no new embargo measures for six months if it sticks by the accord. This represents "limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture," the White House said. During this six-month period, Iran and the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany will negotiate a "comprehensive solution ... to give the international community confidence that Iran's nuclear activities will be exclusively peaceful."

Pakistan welcomes 'understanding'

Pakistan on Sunday welcomed the understanding reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and P5+1 world powers in Geneva on Tehran's nuclear issue.

Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, in a statement, said as a brotherly neighbouring country of Iran, Pakistan has always underscored the importance of finding a peaceful solution to this issue. He said, "We have also been stressing the need to avert confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme which had the potential to destabilise our region."

The spokesman said the understanding is an important development, which should augur well for peace and security in our region and the world at large.


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