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Iran, world powers reach initial nuclear deal

An agreement on ‘key parameters’ aimed at reining in Tehran's nuclear programme has been reached.

(From L) EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Deputy director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia Alexey Karpov, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and US Secretary of State John Kerry at the announcement of an agreement on Iran nuclear talks on 2 April 2015, at the The Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne. Picture: AFP/ FABRICE COFFRINI

SWITZERLAND - Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement on Thursday on curbing Iran's nuclear programme for at least a decade, a step towards a final pact that could end 12 years of brinkmanship, threats and confrontation.

The tentative agreemen t, after eight days of marathon talks in Switzerland, clears the way for negotiations on a settlement aimed at allaying Western fears that Iran was seeking to build an atomic bomb and in return lift economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

The framework is contingent on reaching an agreement by 30 June. All sanctions on Iran remain in place until a final deal.

Celebrations erupted in the Iranian capital Tehran. Videos and pictures posted on social media showed cars in Tehran honking horns as passengers clapped. In one video posted on Facebook, a group of women can be heard clapping and chanting "Thank you, Rouhani." in praise of President Hassan Rouhani.

President Barack Obama described the agreement as a "historic understanding with Iran" and compared it to nuclear arms control deals struck by his predecessors with the Soviet Union that "made our world safer" during the Cold War. He also cautioned, however, that "success is not guaranteed."

Many details still need to be worked out. Diplomats close to the negotiations said the deal was fragile. It could not be ruled out that the understandings reached could collapse between now and 30 June. Experts believe it will be much harder to reach a final deal than it was to agree the framework accord.

Under the outline deal, Iran would shut more than two-thirds of its installed centrifuges capable of producing uranium that could be used to build a bomb, dismantle a reactor that could produce plutonium, and accept intrusive verification.

The negotiations between Iran and six powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - blew past a self-imposed 31 March deadline with no certainty that they would not end in failure.

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