“I’m very happy about this agreement,” one man told CNN in Tehran. “We hope all the world knows we use this nuclear (power) just for peace, not for war.”
With the exception of extreme hard-liners, most Iranians are extremely happy with the deal, especially after many rounds of negotiations that yielded no results.
Iranian newspapers lauded the agreement, with one proclaiming on the front page: “This is Iran, and everyone is happy.”
But just across the region in Jerusalem, many residents echoed the sentiments of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who slammed the deal as “a historic mistake.”
A political cartoon in one local newspaper depicts Israel’s foreign minister as saying, “I’ll find us new friends” — an apparent jab at the United States and other allies who supported the deal.
Iranian officials and the P5+1 countries — the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany — hashed out the plan in Geneva early Sunday morning.
World powers will suspend sanctions on various items, including gold and petrochemical exports. That suspension will provide Iran with about $1.5 billion in revenue, according to the White House.
But not every country is following suit. Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said his country will maintain its sanctions on Iran.
Iran has stumbled from one economic crisis to the next under the sanctions, and unemployment currently runs over 24%.
But the temporary plan brings no guarantees for a permanent deal.
“It’s a little too early to break open champagne bottles and put on the party hats on this one,” said Middle East diplomatic expert Aaron David Miller. “Its success hinges on whether or not it leads to a bigger agreement to “put Iran’s nuclear weapons program to rest.”
That the diplomats came to any accord at all represents a momentous budge in a nearly 35-year deadlock marked by distrust, suspicion and open animosity between the United States and Iran, which broke off diplomatic relations after Iran’s revolution in 1979.
It was the first such agreement in 10 years of attempts to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear program.
In a televised speech, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sold it as a win for his negotiators.
“We are pleased after 10 years that an agreement on this level has been reached,” he said.
He played up the fact that the deal allows Iran to enrich uranium to a level making it usable as nuclear fuel. During the six months of the agreement, he said, major facilities in Iran will continue doing so. But that level, 5% enrichment, is well below the level needed to make weapons.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the agreement includes “substantial limitations that will help prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon.”
But some Republican opponents in Washington agreed with Israeli officials, saying the plan will actually help in Iran’s alleged quest for a bomb.
“This agreement shows other rogue states that wish to go nuclear that you can obfuscate, cheat, and lie for a decade, and eventually the United States will tire and drop key demands,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said.
During the negotiations in Geneva, Khamenei responded to passionate Israeli skepticism by saying Israeli officials “cannot be even called humans” and referred to Netanyahu as “the rabid dog of the region.”
The agreement does not apply to Israel, he said Sunday. If need be, Israel will take matters into its own hands.
“The regime in Iran is dedicated to destroying Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself with its own forces against every threat,” Netanyahu said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres backed up Netanyahu, but also extended an olive branch.
“I would like to say to the Iranian people: You are not our enemies and we are not yours,” he said. “There is a possibility to solve this issue diplomatically,” Peres said.