(AP) A deal has been reached between six world powers and Iran that calls on Tehran to limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief, the French and Iranian foreign ministers said early Sunday.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Yes, we have a deal,” as he walked past reporters crowding the hotel lobby where marathon negotiations had taken place over the past five days.
Asked if there was a deal, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said “Yes” and gave a thumbs-up sign.
The goal had been to hammer out an agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear program for six months, while offering the Iranians limited relief from crippling economic sanctions. If the interim deal holds, the parties will negotiate final-stage agreements to ensure Iran does not build nuclear weapons.
The deal came after the personal intervention by Secretary of State John Kerry and other foreign ministers whose presence had raised hopes for a breakthrough.
Diplomats refused to spell out details of the talks, which dragged on past midnight. As the meetings continued into Sunday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi described the talks as being in “their 11th hour,” with most issues resolved but an agreement still elusive.
Consensus came after nearly a decade of inconclusive international efforts to halt Iran’s expanding nuclear program. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes and not aimed at building nuclear weapons.
The agreement built on the momentum of the historic dialogue opened during September’s annual U.N. gathering, which included a 15-minute phone conversation between Obama and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, after three decades of U.S.-Iranian estrangement.