From Washington Post:
Iran agreed in principle to accept significant restrictions on its nuclear facilities for at least a decade and submit to international inspections under a framework deal announced Thursday after months of contentious negotiations with the United States and other world powers.
In return, international sanctions that have battered Iran’s economy would be lifted in phases if it meets its commitments, meaning it could take a year or less for relief from the penalties to kick in.
The framework agreement, a milestone in negotiations that began 12 years ago, is not a final deal. But it creates parameters for three more months of negotiations over technical details and some matters that remain unresolved. Any one of those issues could doom a comprehensive agreement. Among them is the pace at which sanctions will be suspended.
“The political understanding with details that we have reached is a solid foundation for the good deal we are seeking,” said Secretary of State John F. Kerry, sounding hoarse after an all-night negotiation session.
The agreement includes almost all the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear facilities, laboratories, mines and mills that the United States had sought in recent months, although it initially aimed for even tougher restrictions.
But Iran would get several benefits that may make the deal more palatable to politicians and the public in Tehran. It would not have to close any of its three nuclear facilities, though it would be left with only one that would enrich uranium — at levels low enough to create fuel for power plants but not high enough to create weapons-grade material.
The limitations would produce a one-year “breakout” period, meaning it would take Iran a full year to build up enough material to build one nuclear warhead, compared with current estimates of two to three months, officials said.
Many sanctions initially would be suspended, rather than lifted permanently as Iran sought, so they could be “snapped back” into place if Iran was discovered to be cheating, the officials said.
Iran’s apparent acceptance of so many conditions sought by the United States could give the Obama administration a tool to fend off critics in Congress who want to impose new sanctions to wring more concessions from the Iranians.
The White House fears such steps could scuttle the talks and prompt Tehran to resume its nuclear program at full tilt. Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian uses.