President Obama describes the agreement in an address to the nation tonight.
GENEVA — Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on an historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions, diplomats confirmed.
The deal was reached after four days of marathon bargaining and an 11th-hour intervention by U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China. the sources said.
The agreement, sealed at 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.
“We have reached an agreement,” Michael Mann, spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a Twitter posting.
“We have reached an agreement,” echoed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a separate posting.
More details from the NY Times:
According to the accord, Iran would agree to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent. To make good on that pledge, Iran would dismantle the links between networks of centrifuges.
All of Iran’s stockpile of uranium that has been enriched to 20 percent, a short hop to weapons-grade fuel, would be diluted or converted into oxide so that it could not be readily used for military purposes.
No new centrifuges, neither old models nor newer more efficient ones, could be installed. Centrifuges that have been installed but which are not currently operating — Iran has more than 8,000 such centrifuges — could not be started up. No new enrichment facilities could be established.
The agreement, however, would not require Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level of 3.5 percent or dismantle any of its existing centrifuges.
Iran’s stockpile of such low-enriched uranium would be allowed to temporarily increase to about eight tons from seven tons currently. But Tehran would be required to shrink this stockpile by the end of the six-month agreement back to seven tons. This would be done by installing equipment to covert some of that stockpile to oxide.
To guard against cheating, international monitors would be allowed to visit the Natanz enrichment facility and the underground nuclear enrichment plant at Fordo on a daily basis to check the film from cameras installed there.
In return for the initial agreement, the United States has agreed to provide $6 billion to $7 billion in sanctions relief, American officials said. This limited sanctions relief can be accomplished by executive order, allowing the Obama administration to make the deal without having to appeal to Congress, where there is strong criticism of any agreement that does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear program.