Historic agreement struck to limit Iran's nuclear program

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Diplomats on Sunday made history when Iran and six world powers came together on an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program. It was the first such agreement in 10 years of negotiation attempts.

CNN reports the deal, which breaks a decades-long gridlock between Iran and the West, reduced Iran's ability to work toward a nuclear weapon and loosens international sanctions that have stymied Iran's economy. The foreign policy chiefs from the nations (the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) were in Geneva to pound out the deal.

The preliminary agreement that was reached by Iran and the P5+1--the five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany--lasts for six months. The breathing room is intended to buy Iran and the negotiating powers time to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement. NBC News reports that the White House says the deal stipulates that Iran will commit to halt uranium enrichment above 5 percent and will neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium. The Islamic Republic has also committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity. Iran will also halt work at its plutonium reactor and provide access to nuclear inspectors.

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. and Iran secretly engaged in high-level, face-to-face talks over the past year that paved the way for the deal. The discussions were kept hidden even from America's closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago. That may explain how the accord appeared to come together quickly after a 35-year deadlock between Iran and the west..

President Barack Obama personally authorized the talks as part of his effort to reach out to a country the State Department designates as the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism.

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