Major powers and Iran have struck a historic nuclear deal, capping more than a decade of on-off negotiations with an agreement that could potentially transform the Middle East.
But the accord did not bury the controversy of one of the most bitterly contested diplomatic issues in recent history.
While the European Union called it a ‘sign of hope for the entire world’, Israel branded it an ‘historic surrender’ and warned that Iran had now been given a ‘licence to kill’.
Iran was also congratulated by Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad, who has been backed by Tehran throughout his country’s four-year conflict.
Under the deal, sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union and United Nations will be lifted in return for Iran agreeing long-term curbs on a nuclear programme that the West has suspected was aimed at creating a nuclear bomb.
The prospect of a deal has already helped push down global oil prices because of the possibility that Iranian supply could return to the market.
The agreement is a major political victory for both U.S. President Barack Obama and Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist elected two years ago on a vow to reduce the diplomatic isolation of a country of 77 million people.
But both leaders face scepticism from powerful hardliners at home after decades of enmity between nations that referred to each other as ‘the Great Satan’ and a member of the ‘Axis of Evil’.