President Obama on Iran agreement: ‘If Iran cheats the world will know it’
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (CNN) — Latest developments:
• U.S. President Barack Obama praised the world powers that have agreed on the general terms of a deal meant to keep Iran’s nuclear program peaceful. “I am convinced if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, our world safer,” Obama said Thursday from the Rose Garden at the White House.
• “If Iran cheats, the world will know it,” Obama said.
• Obama said that he would reach out to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to explain and defend the tentative framework. “If, in fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is looking for the most effective way to ensure that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon, this is the best option,” Obama said.
• Obama warned leaders of Congress not to stop the deal. “If Congress kills this deal not based on expert analysis and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy,” Obama said. “International unity will collapse.”
The United States and other world powers have agreed on the general terms of a deal meant to keep Iran’s nuclear program peaceful, a major breakthrough after months of high-stakes negotiations.
The deal, announced Thursday evening in Switzerland, calls for Iran to limit its enrichment capacity and stockpile in exchange for the European Union lifting economic sanctions that have hobbled Iran’s economy.
Iran also agreed to enrich nuclear materials only at one plant, with other nuclear facilities converted for other uses, said Federica Mogherini, foreign policy chief for the European Union.
The United States would lift many sanctions on Iran after Iran’s implementation of the agreement is confirmed.
The preliminary agreement will not put an end to Iran’s enrichment activities, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said.
“None of those measures include closing any of our facilities. The proud people of Iran would never accept that,” he said.
Iran will, however, abide by the agreement, which would limit enrichment activities to one location, he said.
Leading negotiators announced the deal in a news conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, where they have been meeting for months.
Negotiators must resolve additional details of a final deal by the end of June. The announcement marks the end of a round of talks that started last week.
They were supposed to reach a framework for a deal by Tuesday but stretched the talks into Thursday.
The world powers involved in the talks were the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.
The talks, aimed at reaching a preliminary political deal on Iran’s nuclear program, blew past their initial, self-imposed deadline of late Tuesday as Iranian and U.S. negotiators struggled to find compromises on key issues.
But the negotiators doggedly continued their work in Lausanne, trying to overcome decades of mistrust between Tehran and Washington.
The mutual mistrust had been a serious problem in the talks, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said earlier Thursday.
“I believe respect is something that needs to be exercised in practice and in deeds, and I hope that everyone is engaging in that in mutual respect,” he said.
Iran wants swift relief from punishing sanctions that have throttled its economy. And Western countries want to make sure any deal holds Iran back from being able to rapidly develop a nuclear weapon.
The Obama administration needed something solid enough it can sell to a skeptical Congress, which has threatened to impose new sanctions on Iran. The potential deal is also coming under sustained attack from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.