Monday

25th Jun 2018

EU announces Iran nuclear deal

  • Ashton with Iranian foreign minister Javed Zarif (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

The world's most powerful countries and Iran have agreed a six-month deal on its nuclear programme, prompting outrage in Israel.

The breakthrough was announced by the EU foreign service on Twitter shortly after 3am on Sunday (24 November) in Geneva.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

"#EU High Rep #Ashton: 'We have reached agreement between E3+3 and Iran'," it said, referring to EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton, who chaired the talks, and the six states - China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US - which took part.

According to the US, Iran has for the next six months agreed to stop enriching uranium above 5 percent.

It has also agreed to "dilute" its high-grade stockpile, to stop installing new centrifuges, to stop work on its Arak reactor and to give UN inspectors "daily access" to its Natanz and Fordow atomic facilities.

In return, it got $7 billion of oil income which had been frozen in foreign banks.

According to Iran, it also got the right to enrich nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes.

The deal came after four days of talks by foreign ministers.

It also comes after more than 10 years of UN sanctions and more than 30 years of an Iran-US cold war.

US President Barack Obama underlined the importance of the development in a special TV address.

He said: "Today … diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure, a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon."

He added: "We can begin to chip away at the mistrust between our two nations. This would provide Iran with a dignified path to forge a new beginning with the wider world."

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the Irna news agency the accord is a "basis for further intelligent actions."

Its President, Hassan Rohani, tweeted: "These negotiations have created an atmosphere where the path towards building trust in #Iran by other countries can be properly directed."

France, which blocked a deal at Geneva talks two weeks ago, also welcomed the news.

"The interim agreement … represents an important step in the right direction," French President Francois Hollande said in a statement.

If things go well, the deal has the potential to stop a nightmare scenario: a nuclear conflict between Iran and Israel.

It can also help to stop the war in Syria by opening the door for Iran, the Syrian regime's main sponsor, to get involved in peace talks.

At the same time, it is a new recognition of Iran's status in the Middle East.

The US and its allies, Israel and Sunni Muslim gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have long portrayed Iran, a Shia Muslim state, as the head of an "axis of evil."

But the nuclear pact gives Iran and its allies, such as Shia Muslim groups in Iraq and Lebanon, a new aura of legitimacy.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced outrage at a government meeting on Sunday.

He said "the agreement reached in Geneva is a historical mistake. The world has become more dangerous today."

He added that "Israel is not obligated" by the deal and reserved the right to launch military strikes.

Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told press: "Obviously, when you look at the smiles of the Iranians over there in Geneva, you realise that this is the Iranians’ greatest victory, maybe since the Khomeini revolution [the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979]."

Meanwhile, the accord is a personal coup for Ashton.

US secretary of state John Kerry gave her a big hug in front of TV cameras in Geneva on Sunday.

Her EU colleagues, European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy, also praised her.

"I would like to congratulate in particular Catherine Ashton … for this accomplishment which is a result of her tireless engagement and dedication to the issue over the last four years," Barroso said in a statement.

A US official told the AFP news agency a lot of legwork was done in behind-the-scenes Iran-US talks over the past five months, however.

An Iranian official told Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that "we respect her greatly and she knows how to create a pleasant and practical atmosphere."

He added: "The problem is it’s quite clear that there is no genuine political power behind her. She has to go to consult with the representatives of the world powers on every minor detail. Nobody is under the illusion that she has any authority to decide on her own. She is no more than a liaison, and at that she is very effective."

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. Nine countries to sign up for Macron's military initiative
  2. Re-elected Erdogan potentially in power until 2028
  3. Macron's popularity drops among French pensioners
  4. Tajani calls for €6bn investment to halt migration
  5. Major demo in London for second EU referendum
  6. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  7. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  8. EU closes deficit procedure against France

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  2. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  4. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  5. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  11. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  12. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform

Latest News

  1. Progressive CAP alternative only hope for sustainability
  2. Ponytailed green MEP joins 'the other side of the table'
  3. EU leaders still in search of migration plan
  4. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  5. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  6. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  7. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  8. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  3. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  5. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  8. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  10. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  11. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  12. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us