Turkey welcomes Iran nuclear agreement

Photo: Turkey welcomes Iran nuclear agreement
 / Turkey

Turkey has welcomed an interim agreement reached between Iran and Western powers on curbing Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions on Iran after five-day-long marathon negotiations in Geneva Today`s Zaman reported.

"I welcome today's agreement on Iran's nuclear program," Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Sunday via his Twitter account.

Gul stated in a second tweet that he has been advocating a "solution through diplomacy" and that Turkey had been the host country for many diplomatic efforts to this end in the past.

"This is a major step forward. I hope it will be sealed with a final agreement soon. I congratulate all the parties for their constructive engagement," Gul said.

"Turkey welcomes the positive result of the P5+1 negotiations process in Geneva over Iran's nuclear program at the end of the third tour. In this regard, we congratulate Iran and the P5+1 countries for their constructive efforts towards the process," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The P5+1 is a group comprising five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- namely, the US, Russia, China, the UK and France -- plus Germany. The six countries joined diplomatic efforts in 2006 to curb Iran's nuclear program.

The P5+1 countries' interim accord with Iran on Sunday halts the country's nuclear program for the first time in a decade. Iran's uranium enrichment will be halted for six months until a final settlement is reached, according to the deal. It will therefore be difficult for Iran to build a nuclear bomb in that period. US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Geneva that the deal impedes Iran's progress in a very dramatic way in terms of Iran's principal enrichment facilities and the key parts of its program.

US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that the interim agreement on Iran's nuclear program is an "important first step."

'First concrete positive development since Tehran Declaration'

The agreement on Iran's nuclear program is the "first concrete positive development since the Tehran Declaration in 2010," said the Turkish Foreign Ministry in its statement.

Turkey and Brazil had teamed up in 2010 and met with Iran on the nuclear issue. A uranium swap deal was signed on May 17, 2010, in Tehran as a confidence-building measure in the settlement of the nuclear dispute. The deal signed between Iran, Turkey and Brazil was called the Tehran Declaration. Disturbed by Iran's peaceful nuclear research, the US adopted a series of sanctions at the UN Security Council in June 2010. Turkey and Brazil voted against the sanctions, sparking heated debates about Turkey's likely alienation from the Western camp.

Since the Tehran Declaration, there has not been much progress on the issue until Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came to power in June and signaled a change in relations with the US through positive messages, opening the way for nuclear talks.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement also emphasized that the agreement with Iran is the "beginning of the process" for a final agreement with Iran over nuclear issues and that the deal is about "short-term confidence building measures."

"We urge both sides to continue their constructive approach which aims to carry the process forward. Our hope is that both sides will carry out the mutually agreed steps on the agreement, therefore resolving this issue permanently in such a way that will satisfy all the sides involved through diplomacy," the statement said.

The statement also said Turkey is ready to provide support for the process. It emphasized that Turkey continues to defend the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and that it would continue to support the efforts to rid the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, said the agreement with Iran is a "bad deal" that does not require Iran to take apart even one centrifuge.

"The Saudis have been equally blistering, hinting in vague asides that if the United States cannot roll back the Iranian program, it may be time for Saudi Arabia to move to Plan B -- nuclear weapons of its own, presumably obtained from Pakistan, which entered the nuclear club on Saudi subsidies," said The New York Times on Sunday in a news analysis.

In the news analysis, it said Obama called the interim deal a "necessary first step" to look simultaneously accommodating enough to the Iranian leadership to keep the talks going while seeming tough enough to its allies and US Congress so that it will not be accused of naiveté if Iran does not take necessary steps in the agreement.

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