Iran, US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China have concluded, after prolonged negotiations led by the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, to an agreement that will lift sanctions on Iran and place strict limits on its nuclear programme for more than a decade.
The summit agreement, which was held in Vienna yesterday, will now see a step-by-step dismantling of much of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, while the UN, US and EU will ease sanctions that have existed in Iran from 2007.
The details of Iran's nuclear decommissioning will result in a reduction of its enrichment capacity by two-thirds, as well as a reduction of 96% of its low enriched uranium stockpile. There has also been an agreement to allow UN inspectors to enter both civilian and military installations.
Sanctions on Iranian oil and gas will be lifted in the coming months, which should result in Iranian oil flooding into the market. There are, however, still certain sanctions in place for Iran; for example, sale of military equipment will be embargoed for the next five years (eight years for ballistic missile technology), as well as the prohibited sale of equipment to the Iranian nuclear industry.
The lifting of sanctions and embargos on the Iranian state are reversible if there are allegations that Iran has not met its obligations under the agreement. A joint commission will seek to resolve the dispute within 30 days; should this joint commission fail, then the UN Security Council will hold a vote to either continue the agreement or reinstate the 2007 sanctions and embargos.
The agreement is still to be ratified by the US Congress and the Iranian legislative body (the Majlis), and will then have to be implemented through the respective legislatures of the UN, EU and US. This is the first step towards bringing Iran back into the fold of the wider international community, and while still in its infancy, it cannot be doubted that the agreement reached yesterday provides the foundation of a healthier relationship between previously hostile nations.