VIENNA, Austria – Iran and six major world powers reached a nuclear deal on Tuesday, capping more than a decade of on-off negotiations with an agreement that could potentially transform the Middle East, and which Israel called an “historic surrender”.
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations would be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
Reaching a deal is a major policy victory for both U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist elected two years ago on a vow to reduce the diplomatic isolation of a country of 77 million people.
But both men face scepticism from powerful hardliners at home after decades of enmity between nations that referred to each other as “the Great Satan” and a member of the “axis of evil”.
“All the hard work has paid off and we sealed a deal. God bless our people,” one Iranian diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “a bad mistake of historic proportions.”
“Iran will get a jackpot, a cash bonanza of hundreds of billions of dollars, which will enable it to continue to pursue its aggression and terror in the region and in the world,” he said. “Iran is going to receive a sure path to nuclear weapons.”
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely called the deal an “historic surrender”. She said on Twitter that Israel would “act with all means to try and stop the agreement being ratified,” a clear threat to try and use its influence to block it in the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.