The agreement between Iran and the US, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of tortuous negotiations in Geneva.
“This is only a first step. We need to start moving in the direction of restoring confidence, a direction in which we have managed to move against in the past,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a news conference.
US President Barack Obama said that if Iran did not meet its commitments during a six-month period, the United States would turn off sanctions relief and “ratchet up the pressure.” But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu's government denounced the agreement as “a bad deal” that Israel did not regard itself as bound by.
The US said the agreement halted progress on Iran's nuclear program, including construction of the Arak research reactor, which is of special concern for the West as it can yield potential bomb material.
It would neutralize Iran's stockpile of uranium refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent, which is a close step away from the level needed for weapons, and calls for intrusive UN nuclear inspections, a senior US official said.
Iran has also committed to stop uranium enrichment above a fissile purity of 5%, a US fact sheet said. Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants - Iran's stated goal - but provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb if refined much further.
The deal has no recognition of an Iranian right to enrich uranium and sanctions would still be enforced, the U.S. official said. But Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran's enrichment program had been officially recognized.
A White House fact sheet detailed what Iran could obtain:
- Potential access to $1.5 billion in revenue from trade in gold and precious metals and the suspension of some sanctions on Iran's auto sector, and its petrochemical exports.
- Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels. “$4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfils its commitments,” the fact sheet said.
- License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
“The approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place. The vast majority of Iran's approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted,” the White House said.