Just before dawn on Sunday, a historic nuclear agreement was agreed between the international community and Iran. It followed four days of intense negotiations in Geneva, led by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton, who has represented the international community in its negotiations with Iran for the past four years. The Foreign Ministers of the E3/EU+3 – China, EU, France, Germany, Russia the UK and the US were present in Geneva for the finalisation of the deal, which has been hailed as an example of the international community working together to resolve complicated issues.
In dramatic scenes at Geneva's Palais des Nations, Catherine Ashton assembled with her Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, and the E3/EU+3 Foreign Ministers; Wang Yi, Laurent Fabius, Guido Westerwelle, Sergey Lavrov, William Hague and John Kerry. She opened by thanking the Swiss government and the UN for their hospitality and by paying tribute to the teams from the E3+3, the ministers, political directors and their teams who worked incredibly hard to reach this point.
She then read out a statement agreed between herself and Mr Zarif: "After intensive negotiations, we reached agreement today on a joint plan of action which sets out an approach towards reaching a long-term comprehensive solution. We agreed that the process leading to this comprehensive solution will include a first-step on initial reciprocal measures to be taken for both sides for a duration of six months."
It went on to say "we also share a strong commitment to negotiate a final, comprehensive solution. The adoption of the joint plan of action was possible thanks to a sense of mutual respect and a determination to find a way forward which is beneficial for all of us. "
Finally it said that "the implementation of this first step creates the time and environment needed for a comprehensive solution, which remains the shared goal and on which talks will begin soon. The work on the implementation of this first step will begin shortly. We look forward to swift implementation, which we will jointly monitor, in close coordination with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Today's agreement is a significant step towards developing our relationship in a more constructive way."
They agreed a Joint Plan of Action to take the process forward. The preamble reads: "The goal for these negotiations is to reach a mutually-agreed long-term comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran's nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful. Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons. This comprehensive solution would build on these initial measures and result in a final step for a period to be agreed upon and the resolution of concerns. This comprehensive solution would enable Iran to fully enjoy its right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes under the relevant articles of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) in conformity with its obligations therein. This comprehensive solution would involve a mutually defined enrichment programme with practical limits and transparency measures to ensure the peaceful nature of the programme. This comprehensive solution would constitute an integrated whole where nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This comprehensive solution would involve a reciprocal, step-by-step process, and would produce the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme."
The preamble goes on to say that "there would be additional steps in between the initial measures and the final step, including, among other things, addressing the UN Security Council resolutions, with a view toward bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the UN Security Council's consideration of this matter. The E3+3 and Iran will be responsible for conclusion and implementation of mutual near-term measures and the comprehensive solution in good faith. A Joint Commission of E3/EU+3 and Iran will be established to monitor the implementation of the near-term measures and address issues that may arise, with the IAEA responsible for verification of nuclear-related measures. The Joint Commission will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern."
The Joint Action Plan then goes on to list some steps that need to be taken (read the full version by clicking on the first link below).