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Iran agrees to framework limiting its ability to build nuclear weapons

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Iran is agreeing to limit its ability to build a nuclear weapon. The deal, which still needs to be expanded and finalized, offers Iran a way to have the United States and European Union lift select economic and financial sanctions. President Obama called the agreement "a historic understanding with Iran," saying he was "convinced" that a finalized deal would make the world safer. "This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon," Obama said. Final terms of the deal still have to be negotiated, which is scheduled to happen by the end of June.

"This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon."

Under terms of the deal's framework, Iran would have to dramatically reduce the number of centrifuges it has — cutting them by around two-thirds — because they can be used to create materials for a weapon. The remaining centrifuges would be older, less-advanced models. Among other limitations, the framework also has Iran agreeing to reduce uranium enrichment levels and maintaining far smaller stockpiles of enriched uranium, dropping from 10,000kg today to 300kg over the next 15 years. Vox reports that this structure will allow Iran to maintain nuclear power plans.

The framework also allows Iran to convert one of its facilities into a research center studying nuclear science, physics, and technology. The center will not be able to investigate uranium enrichment for the next 15 years. Terms of the framework would also give UN inspectors "regular access" to Iran's facilities and supply chain. Most terms of the framework end after 10 or 15 years.

The negotiations included the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the European Union. Obama credits collaborative sanctions with convincing Iran to talk and ultimately move toward agreeing to a deal. While the framework would not result in all sanctions against Iran being lifted — such as those relating to terrorism and human rights abuses — sanctions relating to its nuclear program will be lifted. The sanctions will be removed once Iran has completed "key" parts of the agreement. Should it break those in the future, the sanctions will fall into place again.