By Briana Vannozzi
If approved, Iran will shut down roughly two-thirds of its ability to produce fuel used in building nuclear bombs. In return the U.S. and its allies will lift economic sanctions that have effectively crippled Iran’s economy.
“We have taken a decisive step. We have reached solutions on key parameters of a joint comprehensive action,” said Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy, EU.
From Washington, President Obama called it “a good deal.”
“This framework would cut-off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon. If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it is the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy,” he said.
Among the key items of the framework Iran would:
Reduce the total number of operating centrifuges used to produce the fuel from 19,000 to 6,100.
Limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent for the next 15 years. It must be enriched to 90 percent purity to make a bomb.
Enrichment will continue at the Natanz facility, but would cease at the facility in Fordow. A third site in Arak would be re-engineered to prevent its reactor from producing nuclear grade plutonium. Research and development will also be permitted to continue.
“The United States has overnight accepted many things which were previously unacceptable to the U.S. government. The U.S. government opposed Iran having a domestic enrichment facility,” said Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow Ali Alfoneh.
Hard line critics and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are vowing to take a fine tooth comb through the agreement.
“If diplomats can negotiate for two years on this issue, then certainly Congress is entitled to a review period of an agreement that will fundamentally alter our relationship with Iran and the sanctions imposed by Congress,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.
Menendez recently stepped down from his high ranking position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And from New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance, a co-chair of the Republican Israel Caucus.
“Tough sanctions brought Iran to the bargaining table out of desperation. We must now carefully consider the tools and leverage we have to hold Iran accountable,” he said.
Perhaps the deal’s largest critic — Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he and his cabinet are “strongly opposing” the emerging agreement.
“Such deals do not block Iran’s path to the bomb, such a deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb,” Neyanyahu said.
“I actually think the U.S. government has pressured some of the members of the p5 +1 group in order to get the deal because President Obama is much more eager to get the deal than some of those members. For example, France was opposed to many of the elements and components,” Alfoneh said.
The agreement calls for tough international inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities and meet president Obama’s goal of a one-year breakout period — the minimum time it would take Iran to build a nuclear weapon if it doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Final negotiations must be reached by June 30.