The interim, six-month nuclear deal with Iran officially takes effect today, Jan. 20. Though the deal was called an “historic mistake” by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama believes it marks an opportunity for a new era in U.S.-Iran relations, and has touted it as the only chance to avoid war.
According to the terms of the deal, Iran will receive roughly $7 billion (or $20 billion, Israel contends) in sanctions relief. In exchange, it will enrich uranium only to somewhat lower levels, convert its already highly-enriched uranium to oxidized form, and allow limited international inspections of civilian nuclear facilities.
Previously, the UN Security Council had banned any nuclear enrichment by Iran. Last week, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani celebrated the deal as a “surrender” by the world to Iran, while President Obama implored Congress–which is considering new sanctions that will take effect if the deal fails–to “give peace a chance.”
Israel and Saudi Arabia are among the leading regional powers that have expressed open discomfort with the U.S. approach to Iran. Israel in particular feels threatened, and is widely considered to be weighing options for a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities with the aim of preventing it from becoming a nuclear power.