Nov 25, 2013

    Iran and world powers clinch nuclear deal


    IRAN and six world powers reached a breakthrough deal

    yesterday to curb Teheran's nuclear programme in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in what could be the first sign of an emerging rapprochement between the Islamic state and the West.

    Aimed at ending a dangerous stand-off, the agreement between Iran and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was clinched after more than four days of tortuous negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva.

    The deal, which halts Iran's most sensitive nuclear work, was designed as a package of confidence-building steps to ease decades of tensions and confrontation, and banish the spectre of war in the Middle East over Teheran's nuclear aspirations.

    But Iran's arch foe, Israel, denounced it as a "bad deal" and said it would not be bound by it.

    US President Barack Obama said: "Today, the United States, together with our close allies and partners, took an important first step towards a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear programme."

    Hard-pressed by sanctions, many Iranians were elated by the easing of tensions and prospect of economic improvement.

    Under the deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, Teheran 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 per cent purity - close to weapons grade - within six months, said US Secretary of State John Kerry.

    UN inspectors will also have additional, "unprecedented" access, he added.

    In exchange, the deal will afford the Islamic republic some US$7 billion (S$9 billion) in sanctions relief, and the powers promised to impose no new embargo measures for six months if Teheran sticks by the accord.