Negotiators announce preliminary agreement on Iran nuke program


International negotiators announced the framework for an Iranian nuclear deal Thursday, capping days of exhaustive and tense talks that blew past their original deadline. The preliminary agreement allows all sides — the U.S., Iran and five other world powers — to continue working toward a final agreement by a June 30 deadline.

Speaking in the Rose Garden shortly after negotiators unveiled the plan in Switzerland, President Obama called the agreement a “historic understanding.”

“It is a good deal,” Obama said.

With the framework, Obama may soon face congressional critics concerned about the direction of talks. But the president urged Congress to consider it, and stressed that negotiations are not over yet. He claimed the framework, if fully implemented, would prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

 “This framework would cut off every pathway Iran could take to obtain a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry, earlier, tweeted that all sides had the “parameters to resolve major issues” and will soon get back to work on a “final deal.”

“Big day,” he tweeted.

Reading out a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the seven nations would now start writing the text of a final accord. She cited several agreed-upon restrictions on Iran’s enrichment of material that can be used either for energy production or in nuclear warheads. She said Iran won’t produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Crucially for the Iranians, economic sanctions related to its nuclear programs are to be rolled back after the U.N. nuclear agency confirms compliance.

The apparent breakthrough comes after days of talks that went into overtime after missing a March 31 deadline, raising doubts on whether the negotiators could reach any agreement at all.

But the German Foreign Office tweeted Thursday: “Agreement on framework for final agreement reached.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also said they found “solutions” on key issues and would start “immediately” on drafting a deal to finish by the June 30 deadline.

In the search for a comprehensive deal, the U.S. and five other countries hope to curb Iran’s nuclear technologies that it could use to make weapons. Tehran denies such ambitions but is negotiating because it wants a lifting of sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.

The talks have been on shaky ground in recent days, with U.S. lawmakers worried Iran was making unreasonable demands and some even urging the U.S. delegation to “walk away” from the negotiating table.

Even the White House warned that they were prepared to do so if Iran did not start negotiating in good faith.

Pressured by congressional critics in the U.S. who threaten to impose new sanctions on Iran over what they say is a bad emerging deal, the Obama administration is demanding significant public disclosure of agreements and understandings reached at the current round. But the officials say Iran wants a minimum made public.

The talks resumed several hours after a flurry of marathon overnight sessions between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as other meetings among the six powers.


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