After weeks of negotiations between diplomats from Iran, US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany, Iran has agreed to temporarily freeze its nuclear program while a larger deal is negotiated.
The international agreement would give negotiators time to iron out a deal that would ensure that Iran's nuclear program would only be used towards peaceful ends, and not in pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Over the last few years, Iran has been enriching uranium to 20%, a level close to that which could be used in a weapon. Iran has now agreed to stop enriching at 5%, and dismantle links between centrifuges (which help enrich Uranium) and it has also promised to stop building new centrifuges.
"Diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure," President Obama said last night, "a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon."
In return, the agreement provides some relief from sanctions which have crushed the Iranian economy. The sanctions will be lifted through an executive order, bypassing a congress conflicted by a deal thatdoes not fully eliminate Iran's nuclear capabilities.
Less ambivalent about the deal is Israel, whose leader has called the agreement a "historic mistake." Speaking to reporters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that, "what was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake. It's not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place."
Secretary of State John Kerry disagreed however, claiming in Geneva that the agreement"will make our partners in the region safer. It will make our ally Israel safer."
In a nationwide speech to the people of Iran following the agreement, President Hassan Rouhani reiterated that Iran has no desire to build an atomic bomb, but must continue its nuclear program to use in power stations.