LAUSANNE: Iranians celebrated in the streets after their negotiators reached a framework nuclear agreement with global powers, Saudi king expressed the hope that the final deal would boost regional as well as global security, but Israeli prime minister criticised it severely.
The preliminary agreement clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.
It marks the most significant step towards rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and could bring an end to decades of Iran’s international isolation.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the deal would open a “new page” for the country’s international relations and lead to greater cooperation.
In a live televised address, Mr Rouhani also 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. “The world should know we are not about deceit and hypocrisy.”
Arguing that Iran wanted to improve its ties with all countries, Mr Rouhani said: “With the countries that we have tensions or even hostility with, we seek the end of tensions and hostilities.
“And with countries with which we have cold relations we seek better relations. New cooperation with the world — both in the nuclear sphere and other areas — will open a new page.”
“Some think we should either fight with the world or give in to the global powers,” he said, calling instead for a “third way” of engaging internationally. “We can cooperate with the world,” he added.
Iranians celebrate framework agreement but Israel assails it
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has the ear of US Republicans who control both houses of Congress, said the powers negotiating with Iran must add a new demand that Tehran recognise Israel’s right to exist.
After meeting his security cabinet, he said its members were unanimous in their opposition to the framework agreement. “The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal,” he said in a statement.
“Some say that the only alternative to this bad deal is war,” Mr Netanyahu added. “That’s not true. There is a third alternative — standing firm, increasing the pressure on Iran until a good deal is achieved.”
He stipulated that one of the provisions of a “good deal” must be an end to Iranian threats against the Jewish state. “Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition 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.”
In a telephonic conversation with President Barack Obama, King Salman of Saudi Arabia said he hoped a final deal with Iran could be reached that would strengthen regional and global security, state media reported.
“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques expressed his hope that reaching a final binding deal would strengthen the stability and security of the region and the world,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted him as saying.
Celebrations erupted in the Iranian capital after the deal was reached. Cars in Tehran honked horns as passengers clapped.
On Friday, religious leaders signalled their support for the deal, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader whose authority exceeds that of President Rouhani.
In his weekly sermon at Tehran University, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani, a 78-year-old cleric, said Mr Khamenei had backed the negotiating team.
He praised the negotiators as “firm, wise and calm” and congratulated Mr Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Still, he spoke from behind a podium with a saying from Ayatollah Khomeini, which read: “We will put America beneath our feet.”
Iran would uphold its commitments only if the West did, he said: “If you break a promise, then Iran will break its promise.”
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2015