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Obama tells Netanyahu: framework nuclear deal "represents significant progress"

Xinhua, April 3, 2015 Adjust font size:

U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday reassured Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, one of the main sceptics of the ongoing Iranian nuclear talks, in a phone call that Washington is committed to depriving Tehran of any ability to make nuclear weapons, the White House said.

"The President emphasized that, while nothing is agreed until everything is, the framework represents significant progress towards a lasting, comprehensive solution that cuts off all of Iran's pathways to a bomb and verifiably ensures the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program going forward," a White House statement said.

Meanwhile, Obama underscored that progress on the nuclear issue does not diminish U.S. concerns with respect to Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and threats towards Israel, the statement said, stressing that the United States remains "steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel."

"The President told the Prime Minister that he has directed his national security team to increase consultations with the new Israeli government about how we can further strengthen our long- term security cooperation with Israel and remain vigilant in countering Iran's threats," the statement concluded.

Earlier Thursday, Obama hailed the "historic" framework deal reached between the P5+1 countries, namely the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, plus Germany, and Iran, saying it meets U.S. "core objectives" and will prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Under the parameters unveiled by the Obama administration, Iran agrees to reduce its installed centrifuges to 6,104 from some 19, 000, suspend the enrichment of uranium over 3.67 percent for at least 15 years and cut its stockpiled low-enriched uranium from about 10,000 kg to 300 kg for 15 years.

In addition, Iran allows regular access to all of its nuclear facilities for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and agrees to redesign and rebuild a heavy water research reactor in Arak that will not produce weapons-grade plutonium.

In return, the U.S. and the European Union will suspend sanctions on Tehran, with the lifting of all UN Security Council's past sanction resolutions.

The framework pact also sees Iran's breakout time, time taken to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear weapon, being extended to at least one year from the estimated two to three months now for a duration of at least 10 years.

"This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon," Obama declared. "With this deal, Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world. So this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb."

Mindful of sceptics at home and abroad, the president warned that only a negotiated deal can prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb, with two other options -- bombing Tehran's nuclear facilities and walking away from the ongoing talks with the country -- leading only to another war and a nuclear arms race in the Middle East with the republic advancing its nuclear program all the while.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said he is moving forward with legislation that asks for a congressional review of any deal with Iran. Endite