The Breakthrough U.S.-Iran Nuclear Agreement Is A Long Time Coming

After more than two weeks of marathon talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, the P5+1 and Iran have reached significant agreements on its nuclear deal. EU and Iranian officials made a joint statement on the plan's solutions for curbing Iran's nuclear program, which make up a general framework at this time. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also each held separate press conferences. Though the West and Iran have made significant breakthroughs, further negotiations will be required to reach an official accord.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, told a press conference on Thursday:

Today we have taken a decisive step. We have reached solutions on key parameters for a comprehensive future nuclear deal.

Zarif added that the solutions were a "major step forward."

According European officials, the number of Iran's centrifuges at its main nuclear site at Natanz will be cut in half to 5,000. The uranium enrichment site at Fordo will be partly converted to a research facility and used to produce medical isotopes. A reactor at Arak that was believed to be producing plutonium will be curbed. In exchange, the E.U. and U.S. will begin lifting sanctions, with all of them lifted at the signing of the final agreement.

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Immediately following the announcement from Switzerland, President Obama also gave his statements on the nuclear deal from the White House's Rose Garden.

Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal. And it is a good deal.

Obama went into further detail about the key parameters.

Iran will not build a new heavy-water reactor. And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors, ever. Second, this deal shuts down Iran's path to a bomb using enriched uranium. Iran will not enrich Uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least 10 years.... Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
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But he was also careful to emphasize that reaching a deal does not promote Iran to the ranks of being the U.S.'s ally.

Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime. This deal was not based on trust. It's based on unprecedented verification.... If Iran cheats, the world will know it.

Kerry and Zarif have been in Lausanne since the middle of March for the decisive talks. While the Obama administration had originally set a March 31 deadline for establishing a framework for a final agreement, the discussions in Lausanne saw some setbacks when Iran failed to provide substantial counterproposals. As a result, the deadline was pushed back twice. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that Kerry would remain in Switzerland "until at least Thursday morning," telling reporters:

We continue to make progress but have not reached a political understanding.

On Thursday, that understanding was finally reached. Prior to Mogherini and Zarif's joint statement, officials from Iran and the six P5+1 world powers (the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia, China, and Germany) tweeted hinting at the breakthrough.

Though Thursday's agreements are significant, they only pave the way for the final, comprehensive deal due by the end of June. Between now and then, more compromises will need to be made.

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