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The Daily Banter Guide to the Historic U.S. Deal With Iran

Check out our guide to understanding the agreement between the US and Iran that happened over the weekend, looking at different perspectives across the media spectrum.
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The outcome of the deal between the US and Iran over the weekend has been called 'historic', and the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran "since the 1979 Iranian revolution". In a hotel in Geneva after the third round of intensive talks between US Secretary of State John Kerry, Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign affairs minister in Iran, and the EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, Iran and the US hammered out a nuclear agreement  named the “Joint Plan of Action” that ostensibly halts Iran's nuclear proliferation and eases US led economic sanctions.

Check out our guide to understanding the agreement and what it means, looking at perspectives across the media spectrum.

The Guardian has outlined the broad points:

"The deal releases just over $4bn in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, and suspends restrictions on the country's trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts. In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Over the next six months Iran has agreed to:

• Stop enriching uranium above 5%, reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium, removing a major proliferation concern.

• Not to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

• Freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.

• Not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.

• Accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities."

The New York Times notes that the deal "was largely a holding action", while the serious negotiations are set to continue for the next 6 months:

"For all of the drama of late-night make-or-break talks in Geneva, the deal that Secretary of State John Kerry and his negotiating partners announced early on Sunday was largely a holding action, meant to keep the Iranian nuclear program in check for six months while negotiators pursue a far tougher and more lasting agreement.

By itself, the interim pact does not foreclose either side’s main options or require many irreversible actions — which was why the two sides were able to come to terms on it. That was also a reason for the sharp negative reaction the deal elicited on Sunday from Israel, an American ally that is deeply suspicious of Iranian intentions."

The Economist calls the deal with Iran "Modest but still historic":

"The deal struck this weekend is not yet even the beginning of the end of the danger to the world posed by the possible (actually probable) military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear activities. It is a modest first step and there is still an awful lot that could go wrong: in particular, there are irreconcilables on all sides who might prefer that it did. Nor can Iran ever be fully defanged unless and until its leaders believe that it is in their best interests for that to happen—and that is still a long way off. But compared with the situation just a few months ago, what happened in Geneva is extraordinary and does properly deserve to be described as “historic”."

USA Today relayed Israel's assertion that the Iran nuclear deal is a 'historic mistake':

"The Israeli government called the deal reached with Iran over its nuclear program a "historic mistake," saying it only slows a nuclear program that will still be capable of producing a bomb.

Speaking to his Cabinet on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the agreement endangered Israel, adding the nation is not bound by the international community's nuclear deal and reserves the right to defend itself.

"What was reached last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake," Netanyahu said. "Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step in obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world."

"We're worried about the agreement but our job is to keep up the warnings," said Yair Lapid, Israel's Minister of Finance and part of Netanyahu's coalition government. "We're not comfortable but this warning needs to be done. We have six months until there is (hopefully) a better agreement.Voicing what he called Israel's right to self-defense, he said, "I want to clarify that Israel will not let Iran develop nuclear military capability."

"We may be the only child in the room saying the king has no clothes but that's what we must do."

Andrew Sullivan hailed the agreement as a major endorsement of Obama's foreign policy credentials:

"Now consider this: in the past few months, Obama has both begun to remove the threat of WMDs in Syria through diplomacy and found a way to ensure that Iran’s irrevocable nuclear know-how will be verifiably channeled into peaceful, civilian use. These two acts of diplomacy compound one another to make the world a much more peaceful place. Yes, there remains a risk. Of course there does.But there was also a risk in reaching out to Gorbachev in the 1980s, and yet two Cold Warriors, Reagan and Thatcher, chose to do business with him. And they were right to. As with the Soviets and the arms race, there comes a point when the pain inflicted on the other party by sanctions is so great you have maximal external leverage for reform. Too much and the sanctions would be counter-productive; not enough and we would only have military power as a lever. It takes judgment to know if the time is ripe to take yes for an answer. But, in my view, Reagan was as right to embrace Gorbachev as Obama is to reward Rouhani."

A commenter at


 provided an alternative perspective:

"The left I am part of knows that we have waged cyber war on Iran, have very possibly, if not likely assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, and have helped cause massive civilian suffering with the sanctions… all this after destroying the democracy that Iran had in the’50s to keep them from nationalizing THEIR fucking oil. Who is the great threat? Who has attacked whom? Iran is boxed in on all sides by extremely hostile forces, and all the saber rattling by the US and Israel has been sickening… glad to see it slow down. The propaganda for war rarely diminishes without massive and murderous use of force, so we should be happy when it happens.. however briefly."

And Kevin Drum at

Mother Jones

is cautious yet optimistic about the deal that annoys the right people:

"It's too soon to tell whether this will lead to a permanent deal. Iran hasn't agreed, even in principle, to stop enriching uranium, and for our part, the sanctions relief is fairly minor. Still, my sense is that this is the kind of interim deal you might see from two sides that genuinely want to reach a final deal, so we should take it as tentative good news.

It's too early to have much in the way of reactions to this news, but I think we can assume that Benjamin Netanyahu is still unhappy about it. We can probably also assume that Republicans will be unhappy too. Because, you know, they're Republicans."

Check back later for more updates.