Iranians celebrated in the streets after negotiators reached a framework for a nuclear deal that could bring their country in from the cold, hailed by US President Barack Obama as a “historic understanding” with an old adversary.
The tentative agreement, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for negotiations on a settlement aimed at allaying Western fears that Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb and in return lift economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
It marks the most significant step toward rapprochement between Iran and the US since they became enemies with the 1979 Iranian revolution.
However, the deal still requires experts to work out difficult details over three months.
Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who both took risks to open the dialogue, each have to sell the deal to skeptical conservatives at home.
With many details still up in the air, France yesterday cautioned against overoptimism.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has the ear of US opposition Republicans, fumed against an arrangement he said could lead to nuclear proliferation and war in the Middle East.
“We are not completely at the end of the road and the end of the road should be in June,” French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius said.
“Nothing is signed until everything is signed, but things are going in the right direction,” he told French radio station Europe 1.
The framework is contingent on settling the 12-year dispute by June 30.
All sanctions on Iran remain in place until a final settlement.
Celebrations erupted in the Iranian capital after the deal was reached.
Videos and pictures posted on social media showed cars in Tehran honking horns as passengers clapped. In one video posted on Facebook, a group of women can be heard clapping and chanting: “Thank you, Rouhani.”
Netanyahu was to convene his security Cabinet yesterday after telling Obama in a telephone call that he “vehemently opposed” the agreement.
In a statement released after the conversation, Netanyahu said a deal based on the framework announced in Lausanne “would threaten the survival of Israel.”
“This deal would legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, bolster Iran’s economy and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he said. “It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war.”
Obama described the agreement as a “historic understanding,” comparing it to nuclear arms control deals struck by his predecessors with the Soviet Union that “made our world safer” during the Cold War.
However, he also cautioned that “success is not guaranteed.”
Many details still need to be worked out. Diplomats close to the negotiations said the deal was fragile and the understandings reached could still collapse between now and June 30.
Experts believe it will be much harder to reach a final deal than it was to agree the framework accord.
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