The P5+1 world powers, which include the US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany, reached an agreement [text, PDF] with Iran on Sunday committing Iran to limiting its developing nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions [JURIST report]. The agreement outlines a six-month program [White House fact sheet], although the US holds that this agreement is only an initial step, and the full force of its sanctions against Iran will not be lifted until Iran has come into full compliance with its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [text] and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website]. In a speech [text] regarding the agreement, US President Barack Obama [official website] made the following remarks regarding the agreement:
Today, [diplomacy with Iran has] opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure—a future in which we can verify that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon ... this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] has called the agreement a "historic mistake" [press release], claiming that the rigorous program of sanctions against Iran contained the best opportunity for a peaceful solution.
Over the past several years Iran has been subject to numerous sanctions for its contentious nuclear program, although some commentators doubt the efficacy of such sanctions [JURIST op-ed]. Iranian leaders have repeatedly claimed that the developing nuclear program is for peaceful purposes [JURIST report], but the international community, Israel in particular [JURIST op-ed], worries that Iran's enrichment program was designed for military purposes. In February 2012 the US imposed further sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran due to the misleading practices of Iranian banks. Many, however, viewed this action as an attempt to convince Iran to disassemble its nuclear program by further burdening its already struggling economy. In 2010, the UN Security Council voted to impose a fourth round of sanctions [JURIST report] on Iran for its continued failure to disband its uranium enrichment program. The UN had previously ordered Iran to stop expanding [JURIST report] its nuclear program by August 31, 2006. Iran stated it would completely withdraw [JURIST report] from the International Atomic Energy Agency if its "nuclear rights" were taken away.