Major world powers and Iran reached framework agreements Thursday on Tehran's nuclear program and will move to complete a comprehensive deal by July, officials said.
Framework measures, if implemented by Iran, would eventually result in the European Union and United States easing sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program. In an "international joint venture," Iran would cut its nuclear capacity while agreeing to monitoring and modernization of its facilities.
"We have taken a decisive step. We have reached solutions on key parameters," said EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.
Officials from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China negotiated with Iranian officials in Lausanne, Switzerland, aiming to strike a deal that would form the basis for an accord on reining in Iran's nuclear program. Any parameters are contingent on finalizing a deal by the end of June, and sanctions will stay in place if Iran doesn't fulfill its commitments, officials said.
The talks hold ramifications for the international oil market, as sanctions on Iran have restricted oil exports. Brent crude was down nearly 4 percent on Thursday as word of the agreement spread.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who addressed the media with Mogherini, stressed that Iran will continue to enrich uranium.
Here are some aspects of the framework, which depend on a concrete agreement being reached:
- Iran would reduce its centrifuges by about two-thirds to 6,104. Only 5,060 of those would enrich uranium for 10 years.
- Iran would not enrich uranium over 3.67 percent for 15 years. It would also reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
- Excess centrifuges and enrichment equipment would be placed in monitored storage.
- Iran's breakout timeline—the time it needs to acquire enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon—will be extended to at least one year from two to three months currently.
President Barack Obama said the deal would "cut off every pathway" Iran could take to making a nuclear weapon.
"If Iran cheats, the world will know," Obama said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the framework a "critical milestone." He stressed that, if passed, the deal would not be a temporary measure.
"There will be no sunset to the deal that we are working to finalize," Kerry said.
A deal with Iran faces significant resistance from U.S. lawmakers, particularly House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. In a Thursday statement, he said that Congress should be allowed to review any potential deal before the U.S. lifts nuclear-related sanctions.
"The president says negotiators have cleared the basic threshold needed to continue talks, but the parameters for a final deal represent an alarming departure from the White House's initial goals," Boehner said.
An official in Israel—whose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly criticized a potential deal—decried the framework after it was announced.
"The smiles in Lausanne are detached from wretched reality in which Iran refuses to make any concessions on the nuclear issue and continues to threaten Israel and all other countries in the Middle East," Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement, according to Reuters.
He added that Israel will continue trying to prevent a "bad agreement."