Iran framework nuclear agreement applauded (China Daily)

Supporters welcome Mohammad Javad Zarif (C), Iranian Foreign Minister, and member of Iran’s nuclear negotiation team with world powers in Lausanne at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, April 3, 2015. [Photo/IC]
BEIJING – World leaders welcomed a framework nuclear agreement clinched Thursday between international brokers and Iran, saying it paves the way for a final comprehensive pact by the end of June.
Foreign ministers of the United States and other major powers — Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany — agreed on parameters to resolve major issues on Iran’s nuclear program, following eight-day-long intense negotiations in the Swiss city of Lausanne.
The deal clears the way for negotiations on a final settlement aimed at allaying the West’s fears that Iran was seeking to build an atomic bomb.
In return, the US and the European Union (EU) will suspend sanctions on Tehran, with the lifting of all UN Security Council’s past sanction resolutions.
Thursday’s deal came two days after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hailed the nuclear talks as an “important step” toward a comprehensive agreement and raised a four-point proposal for the next phase of nuclear talks.
The top Chinese diplomat called on all parties to shoulder due responsibility and obligation.
“No agreement is possible without accommodating the core concerns of the various parties,” he said, adding that it is important to give play to the role of the UN Security Council.
In a statement, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the framework deal paves the way for a comprehensive joint plan of action to be achieved by June 30.
“That comprehensive agreement will provide for substantial limits on Iran’s nuclear program and for the removal of all sanctions,” said the statement.
“It will respect Iran’s needs and rights while providing assurances to the international community that its nuclear activities will remain exclusively peaceful,” it added.
Ban said he believes that a comprehensive, negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue will contribute to peace and stability in the region and enable all countries to cooperate urgently to deal with many serious security challenges they face.
Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also lauded the framework agreement, for Iran is set to allow the agency more access to its nuclear sites.
“With the endorsement of the IAEA’s Board of Governors, the Agency will be ready to fulfill its role in verifying the implementation of nuclear related measures, once the agreement is finalized,” Amano said.
In a statement delivered in the White House Rose Garden, US President Barack Obama hailed the “historic” deal, saying it meets U.S. “core objectives” and will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb.
“Today, the United States, together with our allies and partners, has reached a historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” the president said.
According to the White House, Obama also spoke to leaders of Britain, France and Germany respectively, in which they affirmed that the framework “represents significant progress” toward a “lasting” and “comprehensive” solution to the long-running disputes over Iran’s nuclear program.
In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the framework nuclear agreement will have positive impact on the situation in the Middle East.
“There is no doubt that agreements on Iran nuclear program will have a positive impact on the overall security situation in the Middle East, including the fact that Tehran will be able to take a more active part in the resolution of a number of existing regional problems and conflicts,” RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying.
Despite welcome and laud from the international community, the framework agreement also met with skepticism, even opposition, in particular from Israel, a bitter rival of Iran.
During a telephone conversation with Obama late Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deal “poses a grave danger to Israel, the region and the world,” his office said in a statement.
“A deal based on this framework would threaten the survival of Israel,” he said, adding that the deal would also “legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy, and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond.”
“Such a deal would not block Iran’s path to the bomb. It would pave it,” he continued. “It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war.”
Prior to Netanyahu’s remarks, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said the framework agreement is “far from being real,” adding that Israel will “continue its efforts in the hopes of preventing a bad deal.”
“All options are on the table” in order to prevent Iran from reaching nuclear weapons, including a military option, the minister said in an interview with Israel Radio.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Iran’s key regional rival, and other Gulf Arab states remained silent about the deal.
A senior Gulf Arab official said any reaction would come in the days ahead, not from individual countries but from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), an alliance of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
In Washington, US House Speaker John Boehner slammed the agreement as an “alarming departure” from the White House’s initial goals, suggesting the Obama administration caved in to Iranian negotiators and allowed certain concessions.
“My immediate concern is the administration signalling it will provide near-term sanctions relief,” he said in a statement. “Congress must be allowed to fully review the details of any agreement before any sanctions are lifted.”
Mindful of skeptics at home and abroad, Obama warned that only a negotiated deal can prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.
“If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy,” the president said.
“International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen,” he added.
Analysts said that as a proper agreement is the only way to guard against a nuclear armed Iran and provide meaningful sanctions relief, both Western countries and Tehran should take substantial actions to overcome decades of mistrust.
Admitting that many technical details need to be worked out on both sides, US Secretary of State John Kerry said there is still a long way to go in the next three months.
“We still have a way to travel before we’ll arrive at the destination that we seek,” he said.