Iran deal praised … and slammed

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Iran, the United States and other world pow­ers struck a his­toric deal Tues­day to curb Ira­nian nu­clear pro­grams and ease fears of a nu­clear-armed Iran threat­en­ing the volatile Mid­dle East. In ex­change, Iran will get bil­lions of dol­lars in re­lief from crush­ing in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

The ac­cord, reached af­ter long, frac­tious ne­go­ti­a­tions, marks a dra­matic break from decades of an­i­mos­ity be­tween the United States and Iran, coun­tries that have la­beled each other the “lead­ing state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism” and “the Great Satan.”

“This deal of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to move in a new di­rec­tion,” Pres­i­dent Barack Obama de­clared at the White House in re­marks that were car­ried live on Ira­nian state tele­vi­sion. “We should seize it.”

In Tehran, Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said “a new chap­ter” had be­gun in his na­tion’s re­la­tions with the world. He main­tained that Iran had never sought to build a bomb, an as­ser­tion the U.S. and its part­ners have long dis­puted.

Be­yond the hope­ful procla­ma­tions from the U.S., Iran and other par­ties to the talks, there is deep skep­ti­cism of the deal among U.S. law­mak­ers and Ira­nian hard­lin­ers. Obama’s most press­ing task will be hold­ing off ef­forts by Congress to levy new sanc­tions on Iran or block his abil­ity to sus­pend ex­ist­ing ones.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pre­dicted the deal would em­bolden Iran and fuel a nu­clear arms race around the world. It will be dif­fi­cult for con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to stop Obama, how­ever, be­cause of his power to veto leg­is­la­tion.

Is­rael, which sees Iran as a threat to its ex­is­tence, strongly op­poses leav­ing the Is­lamic re­pub­lic with its nu­clear in­fra­struc­ture in place. Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, who has fu­ri­ously lob­bied against a deal, called the agree­ment a “stun­ning his­toric mis­take.”

In a phone call Tues­day, Obama sought to re­as­sure Ne­tanyahu that the agree­ment doesn’t di­min­ish U.S. con­cern about Iran’s threats to­ward Is­rael and its sup­port for ter­ror­ism, the White House said.

Ne­tanyahu’s of­fice said the prime min­is­ter told Obama the deal will al­low Iran to ac­quire nu­clear weapons as well as more money to use in men­ac­ing Is­rael.

Eco­nomic ef­fects could be sub­stan­tial for both Iran and the world.

In trad­ing Tues­day, bench­mark U.S. crude oil prices were volatile, fall­ing quickly then ris­ing.

Iran is an OPEC mem­ber, but its oil pro­duc­tion has been af­fected for years by sanc­tions over its nu­clear pro­gram. Any eas­ing of the sanc­tions could see Iran sell more oil, which could bring down crude prices. That doesn’t au­to­mat­i­cally mean lower ga­so­line prices, how­ever.

Iran also stands to re­ceive more than $100 bil­lion in as­sets that have been frozen over­seas and an end to var­i­ous fi­nan­cial re­stric­tions on Ira­nian banks. The nearly 100-page ac­cord an­nounced Tues­day aims to keep Iran from pro­duc­ing enough ma­te­rial for an atomic weapon for at least 10 years and im­poses new pro­vi­sions for in­spec­tions of Ira­nian fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary sites.

The deal was fi­nal­ized af­ter more than two weeks of fu­ri­ous diplo­macy in Vi­enna.

AP PHOTO

Ju­bi­lant Ira­ni­ans sing and wave Iran flags dur­ing street cel­e­bra­tions in Tehran, Iran, fol­low­ing news of a land­mark nu­clear deal Tues­day.

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