World Powers Reach Historic Nuclear Deal With Iran

World powers reached a historic deal with Iran on its nuclear program early Sunday, but will face challenges ahead as they work to develop a comprehensive agreement. The United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany reached the six-month interim deal with Iran after days of negotiations in Geneva. The agreement included up to $7 ...

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

World powers reached a historic deal with Iran on its nuclear program early Sunday, but will face challenges ahead as they work to develop a comprehensive agreement. The United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany reached the six-month interim deal with Iran after days of negotiations in Geneva. The agreement included up to $7 billion in "limited, temporary, and reversible relief" in sanctions for Iran in exchange for several measures targeting Iran's nuclear program including suspension of higher-grade uranium enrichment, halting of construction of its Arak plant, and daily access for inspectors to the nuclear sites at Natanz and Fordo. Israel has denounced the deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed the deal and Iranian negotiators were met with praise upon their return to Tehran. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's chief negotiator, said Tehran would begin implementing the agreement in the coming weeks and said Iranians are ready to "begin negotiations for a final resolution as of tomorrow." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said some E.U. sanctions could be lifted as early as December. With the announcement of the deal, crude oil prices dropped by an estimated $2 and the value of Iran's currency, the rial, increased by over 3 percent.

Syria

The United Nations has announced Jan. 22 for the beginning of an international peace conference on Syria to be held in Geneva. The announcement came as Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, met with U.S. and Russian officials to discuss negotiations. The conference is aimed at bringing together Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and members of the opposition. One of the main goals is "the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities." Meanwhile, opposition fighters have launched a counter-offensive in the past three days, taking over some villages and checkpoints east of Damascus and southeast of Aleppo. Opposition activists said they were working to break a siege in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, including Eastern Ghouta, where an estimated 160 Syrian troops and rebel forces were killed over the weekend. On Saturday, several government airstrikes killed at least 40 people in and near Aleppo.

World powers reached a historic deal with Iran on its nuclear program early Sunday, but will face challenges ahead as they work to develop a comprehensive agreement. The United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany reached the six-month interim deal with Iran after days of negotiations in Geneva. The agreement included up to $7 billion in "limited, temporary, and reversible relief" in sanctions for Iran in exchange for several measures targeting Iran’s nuclear program including suspension of higher-grade uranium enrichment, halting of construction of its Arak plant, and daily access for inspectors to the nuclear sites at Natanz and Fordo. Israel has denounced the deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a "historic mistake." However, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei endorsed the deal and Iranian negotiators were met with praise upon their return to Tehran. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s chief negotiator, said Tehran would begin implementing the agreement in the coming weeks and said Iranians are ready to "begin negotiations for a final resolution as of tomorrow." French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said some E.U. sanctions could be lifted as early as December. With the announcement of the deal, crude oil prices dropped by an estimated $2 and the value of Iran’s currency, the rial, increased by over 3 percent.

Syria

The United Nations has announced Jan. 22 for the beginning of an international peace conference on Syria to be held in Geneva. The announcement came as Lakhdar Brahimi, U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, met with U.S. and Russian officials to discuss negotiations. The conference is aimed at bringing together Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and members of the opposition. One of the main goals is "the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive powers, including over military and security entities." Meanwhile, opposition fighters have launched a counter-offensive in the past three days, taking over some villages and checkpoints east of Damascus and southeast of Aleppo. Opposition activists said they were working to break a siege in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, including Eastern Ghouta, where an estimated 160 Syrian troops and rebel forces were killed over the weekend. On Saturday, several government airstrikes killed at least 40 people in and near Aleppo.

Headlines

  • Libya’s army has declared a "state of alert" after clashes with the Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia killed an estimated nine people in Benghazi Monday.
  • Human rights groups are condemning a new "protest law" signed by Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour Sunday requiring Egyptians to seek permission for demonstrations.
  • Lebanese authorities have reportedly identified the two suicide bombers in the Nov. 19 attack on the Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
  • A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced 20 men for a 2004 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah that killed nine people.
  • Mauritania’s election commission said ballot counting from Saturday’s election has been delayed, but definitive results may be available in the middle of the week. 

Arguments and Analysis

Iran: a historic deal worth defending‘ (The Guardian)

"The strongest argument against the nay-sayers — the hawks in Congress, Israel, some Gulf states and also in Iran — is to question what alternative they offer, apart from propelling the Middle East into another war. Like it or not, the chemical weapons deal with Bashar al-Assad was far more intrusive and effective in ridding Syria of these hideous weapons than a tokenistic cruise missile strike would have been, and yet the Saudi government was openly contemptuous of its US ally for not bombing. Similarly, the ubiquitous presence of inspectors will make sure that Iran abides by its commitments in a way that the assassination of nuclear scientists can not.

The use of force can delay but it cannot stop the inevitable. That can only be done with the consent of the Iranian leadership. If Congress goes on to pass another round of punitive sanctions, or Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, makes good on his explicit military threats — he said on Sunday that Israel would not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability, period — the first casualty of militarism would be the current moderate leadership of Iran. Mr Zarif got the latitude he had in negotiating a deal with Mr Kerry only because the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had President Hassan Rouhani’s back. That can change. Other advisers can come to the fore, arguing (with some justice) that Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya only became vulnerable to regime change once he had handed over his weapons of mass destruction.

The virtuous circle started at Geneva can easily unwind, and it is in no one’s interests, particularly Iran’s neighbours in the Gulf, that that should happen."

Let’s Not Celebrate This Iran Deal…Yet‘ (Aaron David Miller, Politico Magazine)

"In the end, whatever develops, we need to be honest with ourselves about what’s achievable. We need to stop deluding ourselves that negotiations will produce a final agreement that will end Iran’s aspirations for a nuclear weapons capacity. Iran has come too
far in its nuclear program for the United States and Israel ever to have that kind of certainty or finality. The advocates of cutting a deal with Iran, including smart and cool heads in Israel, are right that the best you might be able to do is to put more time back on the Iranian nuclear program’s clock so that the world will have enough warning to detect and deal with an effort to break out and weaponize.

That’s not terribly comforting. But that’s what happens when the mullahs play three-dimensional chess and we play checkers.

This accord is less worrisome than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes, but not as compelling and reassuring as U.S. officials maintain. Using it to our advantage depends on keeping sanctions tight, monitoring intrusive and a credible military option on the table. Then there’s figuring out exactly what we do six months from now if no comprehensive deal materializes? That would help too."

–Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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