U.S. and Iranian negotiators returned home on Thursday to rally domestic support for the framework for a deal on Tehran's controversial nuclear program, an agreement they reached after marathon negotiations in Switzerland.
Iran and six world powers announced on Thursday they had drafted a framework that will serve as the basis for a final round of negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief. The deadline for a comprehensive agreement is June 30.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday that a final deal on Tehran's nuclear program would be a historic understanding. "I'm convinced that if this framework leads to a final comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies and our world safer," he added.
"Today is a day that will remain in the historic memory of the Iranian nation," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a live address on Friday.
In capitals around the world, power brokers weighed in on the terms of the deal and the prospects for success in the final phase of the negotiations.
Among Iran's strongest adversaries, Israel on Thursday condemned the optimism surrounding the deal as detached from reality. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the current parameters of the agreement again on Friday and called on negotiators to take a firmer stand. "Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period," Netanyahu said. "Such a deal does not block Iran's path to the bomb. Such a deal paves Iran's path to the bomb. And it might very well spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and it would greatly increase the risks of terrible war."
Meanwhile, Iran's main regional rival, Saudi Arabia, publicly welcomed the framework, with King Salman expressing his hopes for a final agreement in a phone call to President Obama on Thursday. But privately, many in the kingdom fear the deal could significantly strengthen Iran's power and influence in the region, Reuters reports. Tehran and Riyadh have been locked in a battle for regional influence for decades. "It's not that we expect the West's relationship with Iran will be particularly cosy. ... It’s more that a lifting of sanctions will help Iran, even if oil prices are weaker, and that this could embolden its behavior," a Saudi businessman told the news service.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu expressed his country's support for the framework. "(We are) happy to see consensus on the general framework of a final agreement," Cavusoglu said, according to Reuters. "I hope the parties will reach final agreement," he added.
But even among countries present at the negotiating table in Switzerland, there were words of caution. "The end of the road is the end of June," French Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Friday, referring to the deadline for a final deal. France, one of the toughest partners at the negotiating table, is hoping for a firm final deal with strict contingencies on Iran's nuclear program. "We want a solid agreement to avoid that other countries in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia, embark on a path of nuclear proliferation," Fabius explained.
Echoing some of those concerns, Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned in the wake of the announcement that it was far too early to celebrate. However, Steinmeier also called on Israel to take a closer look at the parameters of the agreement. "Its main points are intended to guarantee that security in the Middle East ... will improve, and not get worse," Steinmeier said on a visit to Poland.
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