Major powers clinched a historic deal Tuesday aimed at ensuring Iran does not obtain the nuclear bomb, opening up Tehran’s stricken economy and potentially ending decades of bad blood with the West. It was hailed by Iran, the United States, the European Union and others but branded a “historic mistake” by Tehran’s archfoe Israel. US President Barack Obama said the accord meant “every pathway to a nuclear weapon is cut off.” “This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it,” he said in an address to the nation. He vowed to veto any Congressional effort to block the deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in his own live televised address that “God has accepted the nation’s prayers” and that the accord would lift “inhumane and tyrannical sanctions.” “Iran will never seek a nuclear weapon, with or without the implementation” of the Vienna deal, he added. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini described the agreement as “a sign of hope,” while Russian President Vladimir Putin said the world had “breathed a huge sigh of relief.”
The deal puts strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and calls for stringent UN oversight. In return, Iran will get sanctions relief although the measures can “snap back” into place if there are any violations. The international arms embargo against Iran will remain and Tehran also accepted to allow UN nuclear watchdog “managed access” to military bases, an Iranian official said. Iran will slash by two thirds the number of centrifuges which can make fuel for nuclear power but also the core of a nuclear bomb, from around 19,000 to 6,104. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the deal “as a historic mistake for the world.” “We will always defend ourselves,” he added. Obama’s Republican opponents who control Congress will have 60 days to review the agreement. During this time, Obama cannot waive Congressional sanctions, which for Iran are the most painful.