How Iran and world powers finally got to yes on a nuclear deal

Barbara Slavin reports: Bargaining into the early hours of Sunday morning in Geneva, the representatives of the world’s major powers and Iran reached a milestone on what remains a long road to resolving the decade-old nuclear crisis, and potentially also marking a turning point in three decades of hostility between Tehran and Washington.

Under the deal hammered out between Iran and the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia, Tehran agreed to what President Barack Obama called “substantial limitations” on its nuclear program in return for “modest relief” of sanctions that have harshly impacted the Iranian economy. The agreement covers a six-month period, during which the parties hope to establish momentum for a more far-reaching deal.

While skeptics on all sides are expected to try and pick apart the agreement, few can doubt its historical significance. Had the parties failed again this weekend – only two weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterparts last rushed to Geneva but came up short – it would have been extremely difficult to maintain the momentum of negotiations in the face of mounting pressure from more hawkish voices on all sides. President Obama’s efforts to restrain Congress from an escalation of U.S. sanctions in order to give diplomacy a chance would have been dealt a severe blow. While some in Congress will almost certainly still try to pass further sanctions, the deal reached in Geneva will have helped the White House make its case.

Indeed, Obama, speaking from the Oval Office late Saturday in Washington, said “now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions” and the agreement promises no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months if Iran abides by its commitments. [Continue reading…]

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