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Nuclear program of Iran
Global oil prices dropped and European shares rose in early trading Monday morning after Iran agreed a deal to curb some of its nuclear activities in return for an easing of international sanctions.
Iran holds the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves, but its exports have been hurt by the tough sanctions against it.
Though Iran will not be allowed to increase its oil sales for six months, the deal has eased tensions in the Middle East – a key oil-producing area.
Brent crude fell more than 2% in early Asian trade on Monday.
Global oil prices dropped after Iran agreed the nuclear deal
It dropped by $2.42 to $108.63 per barrel, while US light sweet crude fell 84 cents to $93.64 per barrel.
Fuel-intensive companies, such as airlines and travel firms, received a boost on the stock markets as a result.
International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways and Iberia, was up 2.87% in lunchtime trading, while Air France KLM rose 3.11%. Travel operator Thomas Cook lifted 3.68%.
World powers suspect Iran’s nuclear programme is secretly aimed at developing a nuclear bomb – a charge Iran has consistently denied.
In an attempt to force Tehran to curb its programme, the US and other leading economies have imposed a series of tough sanctions aimed at Iran’s oil exports – a key driver of its economy.
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Some of the EU sanctions on Iran could be lifted as early as next month, as part of a nuclear deal with world powers, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius says.
Laurent Fabius was speaking after crowds in Tehran cheered negotiators who had agreed to curb some of Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.
The six-month interim deal agreed in Geneva prompted a fall in oil prices on markets on Monday.
Meanwhile, Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the agreement is a “historic mistake”.
President Barack Obama phoned Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the deal on Sunday. He told the Israeli leader he understood Israel “has good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions” and promised to consult its ally closely, the White House said.
Some of the EU sanctions on Iran could be lifted as early as next month, as part of a nuclear deal with world powers
Laurent Fabius told French radio on Monday that “Iran is committed to giving up the prospect of nuclear weapons. It’s perfectly clear”.
However, the French foreign minister insisted that the temporary deal could be reversed if its terms were not adhered to: “As long as some things remained to be settled, nothing is settled.”
EU foreign ministers would meet “in a few weeks” to put forward a proposal partially to lift some sanctions on Iran, which the 28-member bloc would then have to approve. The limited lifting of sanctions would take place “in December”, he added.
France, the UK and Germany, the US, Russia and China took part in the talks with Iran, hosted by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Under the deal which will last six months, Iran would receive some $7 billion in “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible [sanctions] relief” while a permanent agreement is sought.
In return, Tehran has agreed to a series of measures surrounding its nuclear programme.
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The new Iran nuclear deal has been called a “historic mistake”by Israel and some Republicans in US Congress.
“What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement. It was a historic mistake,” Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting Sunday morning.
“Today the world become a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards getting the most dangerous weapon in the world.”
The agreement between Iran and the US, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia aims to halt the progress of the Iranian nuclear program and rolls back key parts of it.
Earlier, Israel’s Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon called the agreement “extremely dangerous for the free world.”
“It goes without saying that all options remain on the table and that Israel has the capability – and the responsibility – to defend itself using any means necessary,” Danny Danon said in a statement.
The West and Israel fear that Iran has been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran denies this, saying its nuclear program is a peaceful energy project.
The White House has tried to reassure Israel that its fear that a deal would leave it vulnerable was unfounded. Late Saturday, President Barack Obama admitted huge challenges remain and said Iran’s promises will be put to the test over the next six months.
“As we go forward, the resolve of the United States will remain firm, as will our commitment to our friends and allies – particularly Israel and our Gulf partners, who have good reason to be skeptical about Iran’s intentions,” the president said.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu called the new nuclear agreement with Iran as a historic mistake
Emphasizing the US commitment to Israel as well as his personal relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu, John Kerry said on Sunday that the two allies continue to share the same strategy and the US will not tolerate a nuclear Iran threatening Israel.
“There is no difference whatsoever between the United States and Israel about what the end goal is,” John Kerry said.
Earlier in the news conference, John Kerry said the agreement could not have been reached without the Iranians’ decision to come to the negotiating table. He said the next phase of talks, while even more difficult will also be more important
“If this first step leads to what is our ultimate goal – which is a comprehensive agreement – that will make the world safer,” he said.
An agreement with Iran will likely also affect US relations with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation, which is threatened by signs of improved US relations with Shiite Iran.
The UAE officially has welcomed the deal but at least one senior Gulf diplomat was much more critical and expressed skepticism over the deal.
The deal stipulates that Iran will commit to halt uranium enrichment above 5% and also to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium. The Islamic Republic has also committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity. Iran will also halt work at its plutonium reactor and provide access to nuclear inspectors.
In exchange, the US and its allies have agreed to offer Iran “modest relief” from economic sanctions and access to a portion of the revenue that the country has been denied through these sanctions. No new sanctions will be imposed.
The Obama administration also faces skeptics in Congress. Reaction poured in late Saturday and early Sunday and appeared to be divided along party lines.
Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned that the deal does not meet the standards necessary to protect the US and its allies.
“Instead of rolling back Iran’s program, Tehran would be able to keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability. Yet we are the ones doing the dismantling – relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years,” Ed Royce said in a statement.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, echoed those concerns, saying in a statement he found it “troubling” that the agreement “still permits the Iranians to continue enriching.”
“Iran’s long history of noncompliance with the U.N. Security Council is well known, as is its use of secret facilities to pursue its nuclear program,” Eric Cantor added.
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Iran has agreed, after days of intense talks in Geneva, to curb some of its nuclear activities in return for about $7 billion in sanctions relief.
President Barack Obama welcomed the deal, saying it included “substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon”.
Iran agreed to give better access to inspectors and halt some of its work on uranium enrichment.
However, Iranian negotiators insisted they still had a right to nuclear power.
Tehran denies repeated claims by Western governments that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. It insists it must be allowed to enrich uranium to use in power stations.
After four days of negotiations, representatives of the so-called P5+1 group of nations – the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany – reached an agreement with Iran in the early hours of Sunday.
The specifics of the deal have yet to be released, but negotiators indicated the broad outlines:
- Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond 5%, the level at which it can be used for weapons research, and reduce its stockpile of uranium enriched beyond this point
- Iran will give greater access to inspectors including daily access at Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites
- In return, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months
- Iran will also receive sanctions relief worth about $7 billion on sectors including precious metals
Secretary of State John Kerry said the agreement would make the region safer for its allies, including Israel.
Iran has agreed, after days of intense talks in Geneva, to curb some of its nuclear activities in return for about $7 billion in sanctions relief
However, the Israeli government criticized the deal and said Israel did not feel bound by it.
“This is a bad agreement that gives Iran what it wanted: the partial lifting of sanctions while maintaining an essential part of its nuclear programme,” said a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli comments came as it was revealed that the US and Iran had held a series of face-to-face talks over the past year that were kept secret even from their allies.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was an opportunity for the “removal of any doubts about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme”.
Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted that Iran had not given up its right to enrich uranium.
“We believe that the current agreement, the current plan of action as we call it, in two distinct places has a very clear reference to the fact that Iranian enrichment programme will continue and will be a part of any agreement, now and in the future,” he said.
The US state department gave more details of the deal, insisting that most sanctions would remain in place.
Restrictions on Iran’s petrochemical exports and some other sectors would be suspended, bringing in $1.5 billion in revenue.
Barack Obama warned that if Iran fail to keep its commitments, “we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure”.
This deal may be the most significant agreement between the world powers and Iran for a decade.
Negotiators had been working since Wednesday to reach an agreement that was acceptable to both sides.
As hopes of a deal grew stronger, foreign ministers of the P5+1 joined them in Geneva.
It only became clear that a breakthrough had been made in Geneva early on Sunday.
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Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Geneva for Iran nuclear talks involving the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany after three days of lower-level meetings.
The foreign ministers hope to close a deal for Iran to curb uranium enrichment in return for a loosening of sanctions.
But Iran insists it must be allowed to enrich uranium for power stations, and denies it is seeking nuclear weapons.
Some US politicians say they will push for more sanctions if the talks fail.
Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Geneva for Iran nuclear talks
Negotiators have been working since Wednesday to try to find an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.
The talks had been scheduled to conclude on Friday, but were extended amid hopes of a possible breakthrough.
The state department said John Kerry, who arrived in Geneva early on Saturday, had the goal of “continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement”.
John Kerry’s participation in itself does not prove a deal is at hand, but it does show that the talks may have reached a critical stage.
The other ministers from the so-called P5+1 group of nations were also arriving on Saturday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters as he arrived: “I want a deal, but a solid deal, and I am here to work toward that end.”
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Talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva have failed to reach an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told a press conference that there had been a lot of “concrete progress but some differences remain”.
Baroness Catherine Ashton said talks would resume on November 20.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he was not disappointed with the outcome, and that the talks were “something we can build on”.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said all parties were “on the same wavelength” and “there was the impetus to reach an agreement”.
Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “There is no question in my mind that we are closer now than we were before.”
Talks between Iran and world powers in Geneva have failed to reach an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear programme
The international powers are concerned that Tehran is trying to build a nuclear weapon – but Iran says its programme is peaceful.
A proposal that was floated would require Iran to freeze expansion of nuclear activity in return for limited relief from economic sanctions.
Delegates had earlier suggested there was “good progress”.
But diplomatic sources said France had wanted tougher terms for Iran.
Before the late-night press conference, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the three days of negotiations had ended without a deal.
“The meetings in Geneva have made it possible to move forward,” he said.
“But we have not yet managed to conclude, because there are still some questions remaining to be dealt with.”
Meanwhile, John Kerry told reporters: “We have not only narrowed differences and clarified those that remain but we made significant progress in working through the approaches to this question of how one reins in a programme and guarantees its peaceful nature.”
He added that the window for diplomacy would not stay open indefinitely.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had urged the world powers not to miss an “exceptional opportunity” to seal an agreement.
The Geneva talks involve Iran and the P5+1 (the US, Russia, Britain, France and China as permanent UN Security Council members, plus Germany).
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