US President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the historic deal reached by Western powers with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme,calling it the “most significant” and “an important first step” that will help prevent Tehran from creating an atomic weapon.
“Today,the US – together with our close allies and partners – took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear programme,” Obama said at the White House after the deal in this regard was reached in Geneva.
“The first step that we’ve taken today marks the most significant and tangible progress that we’ve made with Iran since I took office,” said the US President.
Under the deal,Iran has agreed to halt all enrichment above five per cent and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above five per cent.
The deal was reached after US Secretary of State John Kerry flew into Geneva and met his counterparts of other P5+1 countries,which in addition to the US includes France,Britain,China,Russia and Germany.
The deal,Obama said,would help his administration reach the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“Today,that 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 said.
“While today’s announcement is just a first step,it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade,we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear programme,and key parts of the programme will be rolled back,” he said.
Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralising part of its stockpiles,he said,adding Tehran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges,which are used for enriching uranium.
“Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges,and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments,” Obama said.
“These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put,they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb,” he said,adding that the move will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address comprehensive concerns about the Iranian programme.
Because of this agreement,Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its programme,Obama said.
In response,the US and its allies have agreed to provide Iran with modest relief,while continuing to apply the toughest sanctions.
“We will refrain from imposing new sanctions,and we will allow the Iranian government access to a portion of the revenue that they have been denied through sanctions,” he said.
“But the broader architecture of sanctions will remain in place and we will continue to enforce them vigorously. If Iran does not fully meet its commitments during this six-month phase,we will turn off the relief and ratchet up the pressure,” said the US President.
“Over the next six months,we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution. We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding: Iran,like any nation,should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy.
“But because of its record of violating its obligations,Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear programme that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon,” he said.
Observing that in these negotiations,nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to,Obama said the burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear programme will be exclusively for peaceful purposes.
“If Iran seizes this opportunity,the Iranian people will benefit from rejoining the international community,and 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 based on mutual respect. If,on the other hand,Iran refuses,it will face growing pressure and isolation,” Obama warned.
Noting that the world is united in support of our determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon,Obama said Iran must know that security and prosperity will never come through the pursuit of nuclear weapons — it must be reached through fully verifiable agreements that make Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons impossible.