After eight days of talks, Iran and six world powers known as the P5+1 have reached the basis for a framework of a final deal regarding Iran's nuclear program. Discussions between the parties to curb Iran's ability to generate atomic weapons will now be able to continue through the next stage, which expires at the end of June.
In a joint statement from Lausanne, Switzerland on Thursday afternoon, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said the parties had reached the basis for a framework deal that will curb Iran's nuclear program, while also addressing western sanctions.
"We have reached solutions on key parameters of a joint comprehensive plan of action," Mogherini said, adding that negotiators were "committed to complete our efforts by June 30."
President Barack Obama outlined the main points of the deal during a press conference outside the White House Thursday, which will reportedly see 10-year restrictions placed on uranium enrichment in Iran, allowing the Natanz nuclear facility to remain in the country with only one enrichment site, commuting existing sites for various other purposes. The framework will also make way for lifting western sanctions related to Tehran's nuclear program.
"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," Obama said. "Iran will not enrich Uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least 10 years... Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon."
Just before the statement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted that solutions on key parameters of the nuclear deal had been reached. Similarly, US Secretary of State John Kerry took to Twitter to say "parameters to resolve major issues" had been agreed upon.
The talks between Tehran and six countries — the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the US — were extended earlier this week after their original March 30 deadline. That was the date initially set with of agreeing on a framework for a final nuclear agreement to act as the base for the June deal.
Obama praised the negotiators for their persistence in negotiations Thursday, and called the framework accord a "good deal" that "would cut off every pathway Iran could take" to obtain a nuclear weapon.
"I am convinced if this framework leads to a final, comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, our world safer," Obama said at a press conference on the lawns of White House Rose Garden.
Obama also said that the framework agreement is still only a pathway to a more comprehensive nuclear deal deadlined for June, and is the US' best defense against Iran's ability to pursue a nuclear weapon "covertly."
"If Iran cheats, the world will know it. If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it," he said. "With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world."
Relieving sanctions on Iran will take place in steps as the international community ensures Iran adheres to the deal, Obama said. "If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place. Meanwhile, other American sanctions against Iran... will continue to be fully enforced," he added.
The president also said there was no other solution but to pursue a diplomatic avenue or using military force, and urged Congress to "play a constructive oversight role."
"This is not simply a deal between my administration and Iran. This is a deal between Iran, the United States of America, and the major powers in the world, including some of our closest allies," Obama said. "If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then... international unity will collapse."