Landmark Iran nuclear deal announced

UPDATE 8AM ET, 14 July

Negotiators from the US and other world powers said  an agreement had been reached to limit Iran’s potential capability for developing nuclear weapons, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

Announcing what is likely to be the key foreign policy element of his tenure, President Obama said that “the deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.” Iran’s President Rouhani said the deal’s biggest achievement is “that there is a new atmosphere in the region.”

Reuters reports that the agreement caps “more than a decade of negotiations with an agreement that could transform the Middle East.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the deal as an “historic mistake.”

Global oil prices fell on the news, although there were no immediate details on how and when sanctions on oil might be eased.

* Follow latest updates on the BBC‘s live-blog here.

* Follow live updates from The Guardian here.

* Follow hashtag #IranDeal here.

The focus – at least in the US – now moves to Congress, where there is expected to be significant opposition during the 60-day discussion period.

Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post, calls the deal “the worst agreement in US diplomatic history.”

The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.

Peter Bienart at The Atlantic writes that the deal angers President Obama’s critics because it “highlights the limits of American power.”

The actual alternatives to a deal, in other words, are grim. Which is why critics discuss them as little as possible. The deal “falls apart, and then what happens?” CBS’s John Dickerson asked House Majority Leader John Boehner on Sunday. “No deal is better than a bad deal,” Boehner replied. “And from everything that’s leaked from these negotiations, the administration has backed away from almost all of the guidelines that they set out for themselves.”

In other words, Boehner evaded the question. The only way to determine if a “bad deal” is worse than “no deal” is to consider the latter’s consequences. Which is exactly what Boehner refused to do.

Roula Khalaf at the Financial Times says the agreement represents a “victory for pragmatism in Iran” and has the potential over time to be a “geopolitical game changer in the Middle East.”

The most important political aspect of the accord is the promise of a détente between the US and Iran, whose estrangement has been a principal source of tension in the Middle East. The Iranian regime and the US are beginning to turn the page on 35 years of hostility that followed the 1979 Islamic revolution and the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran, a painful atrocity etched in the collective American memory.



MIDNIGHT ET, 13 July 2015 – Negotiators said to be ‘on brink’ of Iran nuclear deal

After 17 days of negotiations in Vienna, diplomats seem poised to finally announce on Tuesday an historic agreement on Iran’s nuclear capability.

* Follow live updates from The Guardian here.

* Follow hashtag #IranDeal here. has three crucial issues to watch for in any deal, while Reuters reports that the draft deal specifies that UN inspectors “would have access to all suspect Iranian sites – including military ones.”

Iranian President Rouhani tweeted an apparently congratulatory message, before abruptly deleting it and replacing it with a more cautious text.

The New York Times reports that negotiators on both sides “went virtually silent” on Monday after warning that a potential deal was still “fragile”.

The agreement runs more than 80 pages, including annexes, and covers the pace of research and development on advanced uranium enrichment, the size of nuclear stockpiles over the next 15 years and the pace at which oil, financial and other sanctions will be lifted. If a deal is announced in the coming days, Congress will have 60 days to review it, and opponents of the deal in Congress and in Israel made clear on Monday that they planned to make the most of that time.

Any agreement would likely face a tough road in Congress, as opposition at home and abroad has been well-marshalled for some time, if not perhaps fully focused.

Gov Scott Walker, who launched his Presidential campaign on Monday  – more of which later – accompanied by a former hostage from the 1979 crisis, said Iran is “not a place to do business with” and that any deal “needed to be terminated on the very first day in office”.

Overseas, the office of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau launched a Twitter feed in Farsi to criticize the deal.

But the last, best word, as so often, goes to this flashback from The Onion ..


* WORLD *  Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras continues his efforts to win domestic support for the proposed €86 billion ($96 billion) bailout deal and its associated austerity measures.

The Guardian writes:

Tsipras, locked in fraught negotiations with EU leaders in Brussels until Monday morning, indicated that he would carry the Athens parliament, despite some defections, in a vote on the package by Wednesday.

Determined to keep his party together ahead of an expected onslaught by MPs opposing the outlined deal, Tsipras summoned his closest allies to a meeting in Athens before a gathering of his parliamentary party on Tuesday.

New York City reached a $5.9million wrongful death settlement with the family of Eric Garner, the man whose killing a year ago following a chokehold arrest by police prompted widespread protests.

There’s a very fine piece of storytelling by Terrence McCoy in the Washington Post, on the homeless man who lives on the streets of the capital, who graduated law school with Chief Justice John Roberts.

There’s also a remarkable read in the new issue of the New Yorker by Kathryn Schulz on the coming earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

The first sign that the Cascadia earthquake has begun will be a compressional wave, radiating outward from the fault line. Compressional waves are fast-moving, high-frequency waves, audible to dogs and certain other animals but experienced by humans only as a sudden jolt. They are not very harmful, but they are potentially very useful, since they travel fast enough to be detected by sensors thirty to ninety seconds ahead of other seismic waves. That is enough time for earthquake early-warning systems, such as those in use throughout Japan, to automatically perform a variety of lifesaving functions: shutting down railways and power plants, opening elevators and firehouse doors, alerting hospitals to halt surgeries, and triggering alarms so that the general public can take cover. The Pacific Northwest has no early-warning system. When the Cascadia earthquake begins, there will be, instead, a cacophony of barking dogs and a long, suspended, what-was-that moment before the surface waves arrive. Surface waves are slower, lower-frequency waves that move the ground both up and down and side to side: the shaking, starting in earnest.


* POLITICS * Scott Walker is in, and so is whomever is apparently running with him.

Jeff Greenfield writes at Politico on “primary amnesia” and what the press forgets every election season.

The key lesson we forget every four years is that the nominating process stands in sharp contrast to the general election, where “fundamentals” often hold sway. While I’m skeptical about the predictive ability of academics and experts to call an election a year or two out, there’s good evidence that a combination of variables—mostly, but not exclusively economic—can provide a useful, if sometimes blunt instrument for gauging the outcome of an election. (When you get within a week or two of a presidential Election Day, you’d be pretty reckless not to trust the kind of analysis made famous by Nate Silver.)

The Atlantic‘s John Meroney has a Q&A with former President Jimmy Carter.

Meroney: Is there more racism in the country now than when you were president?

Carter: I think there is. After the civil-rights movement was successful—about a hundred years after the end of the War Between the States, the Civil War—there was a general feeling in this country that the main elements of racism, of white superiority, had finally been overcome. With the news media showing the police abuse toward black people in some places, and the terrible events in Charleston, South Carolina, maybe we’ve been awakened to say that we’ve still got a long way to go. The burgeoning of obvious, extreme racism has been a sobering factor for us.


* MEDIA * There were reports that a third hearing was held in Tehran on Monday in the espionage trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. The New York Times reports that

Mr. Rezaian is one of at least three American citizens in Iranian prisons, an issue repeatedly raised by the American side in nuclear talks with Iran, though there has been no indication that their release would be part of any deal.

After 25 years, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoon strip Bloom County by Berke Breathed makes something of a  return, and it’s apparently all because of one of the Republican candidates…



* CULTURE *  Another author publishing again after an extended layoff – although hardly as funny and with presumably less waterfowl – is Harper Lee, whose Go Set A Watchman hits  bookstores. Not everyone who liked her previous work seems to be happy. Sam Sacks in the Wall Street Journal writing that for those who hold To Kill A Mockingbird dear, the “new” book will “be a test of their tolerance and capacity for forgiveness.”


* SPORTS * Tuesday is Major League Baseball’s All Star Game, in Cincinnati.


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