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Iran reaches historic nuclear deal

Sanctions to go, Arms embargoto continue for 5 more years

Major powers clinched a historic deal on 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.

Reached on day 18 of marathon talks in Vienna, the accord is aimed at resolving a 13-year standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions after repeated diplomatic failures and threats of military action.

It was hailed by Iran, the U.S., the European Union and others but branded a “historic mistake” by the Islamic republic’s arch-foe Israel.

The deal puts strict limits on Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and calls for stringent U.N. oversight, with world powers hoping this will make any dash to make an atomic bomb virtually impossible.

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 for five years but deliveries would be possible with special permission of the U.N. Security Council, Moscow said. Tehran has accepted allowing the U.N. atomic watchdog tightly-controlled “managed access” to military bases, an Iranian official said.

Tehran will slash by around two-thirds the number of centrifuges from around 19,000 to 6,104, an Iranian “fact sheet” confirmed.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acknowledged that the agreement was “not perfect for anybody” but described it as “an important achievement.”

Painful international sanctions that have slashed the oil exports of OPEC’s fifth-largest producer by a quarter and choked its economy will be lifted and billions of dollars in frozen assets unblocked. The deal — which was built on a framework first hammered out in April — is President Barack Obama’s crowning foreign policy achievement six years after he told Iran’s leaders that if they “unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”

It is also the fruit of Mr. Rouhani’s attempts since his election in 2013 to end Iran’s isolation 35 years after the Islamic revolution.

The agreement may lead to more cooperation between Tehran and Washington at a particularly explosive time in the Middle East with the emergence last year of the Islamic State group. — AFP

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