US, Iran and five other world powers seal framework agreement outlining limits on Iran’s nuclear programme.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has pledged that his nation will abide by its commitments in the “historic” nuclear agreement reached in Switzerland, declaring that the deal opens a “new page” for the country.
In a televised address on Friday, Rouhani said a final agreement would depend on both sides living up to their commitments.
“If the other side honours its promises, we will honour our promises,” he said, a day after Iran and five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britian, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany – clinched a tentative framework for a nuclear deal.
Rouhani’s speech came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a fierce opponent of the deal, issued a statement on Friday demanding that any final nuclear agreement with Iran must include a commitment from Tehran recognising Israel’s right to exist.
“Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian commitment of Israel’s right to exist,” he said.
“Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.”
With a June 30 deadline and hard details about the lifting of sanctions against Iran standing in the way of a historic accord with western powers, Rouhani on Friday sought to shore up support for the possible deal.
“In the framework that we have before us we can see that this government’s approach was effective.
“New cooperation with the world – both in the nuclear sphere and other areas – will open a new page” for Iran, he said.
“Some think we should either fight with the world or give in to the global powers,” Rouhani said, calling instead of a “third way” of engaging internationally and praising the work of his negotiating team in Switzerland.
Rouhani also said that Iranians “do not seek to deceive” the international community and will “stand by the promises” they made.
US President Barack Obama, who described the tentative deal as a “historic understanding”, called Netanyahu within hours of the talks concluding, saying the deal represented progress towards a lasting solution that cuts off Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.
Obama called the four top leaders in the US House of Representatives and the Senate on Friday to discuss the framework agreement. The president also placed calls to the leaders of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
“We feel good,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but we are confident we can get those details in place.”
Amid the assurances from Obama and the Iranian president, however, Netanyahu continues to oppose the deal, which he said would “pave” Iran’s path to a bomb.
“This deal would legitimise Iran’s nuclear programme, bolster Iran’s economy and increase Iran’s aggression and terror throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he said.
“It would increase the risks of nuclear proliferation in the region and the risks of a horrific war.”
Israel, believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, has previously said it could take pre-emptive military action if necessary to stop Iran getting nuclear weapons.
While that rhetoric has died down over the past year or so, the head of Israel’s military planning directorate said it was still a possibility.
“The military option has always been on the table, as we have said all along,” Major-General Nimrod Sheffer told Israel Hayom newspaper on Friday.
“If it has not been mentioned much in the media recently, that does not reflect a change in policy.”
The chances of Israel going it alone militarily against Iran would appear to be very slim, but with the Republican-led Congress also critical of the deal, Netanyahu may feel he can put pressure on the US administration to push harder, according to the Reuters news agency.