Great Satan agrees terms with Axis of Evil

A nuclear deal agreed with Iran has divided opinion in the West, reports Matthew Partridge.

The deal between Iran and the US over Iran's nuclear programme "should be welcomed by all sensible people", writes Peter Oborne in The Daily Telegraph. Under its terms "the US has tacitly acknowledged the Iranian right to enrich uranium".

But at the same time, "the Iranians have allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency virtually unlimited access, thus ensuring that no nuclear material can be diverted for military purposes".

Tony Blair, "on the orders of George W Bush", blocked a similar deal in 2005. But with the Iranian programme near-complete, the US "has bowed to the inevitable".

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"The benefits of movement on the diplomatic front with Iran could be far-reaching," says The Independent. As well as avoiding "a new war in the Middle East", another benefit would be possible co-operation on Syria.

The deal could help the US and Iran "discover common ground". After all, while Britain and the US "want to see the back of Bashar al-Assad's regime", they are worried "about the prospects of Sunni jihadists taking over".

While the prospects for a wide-ranging deal may still be remote, "the fact that one can even float such an idea shows how fast things could be changing".

Robert Fisk, writing in the same paper, is less impressed. The deal "marks a victory for the Shia in their growing conflict with the Sunni Muslim Middle East". As such, "it gives substantial hope to Bashar al-Assad that he will be left in power in Syria".

Not only does it "isolate" Israel and "infuriate" Saudi Arabia, it proves America "has no intention far into the future of undertaking military action in the region". Overall, the Syrian despot is likely to "sleep well in his bed tonight".

Iran has also "been granted achingly generous terms that it has not earned", fears The Times. While in theory this could be a "first step" to "a more comprehensive deal that brought Iran back into the family of nations", Tehran's "long history of deceit, duplicity, bellicosity and xenophobia" suggests otherwise.

More tellingly, "the regime's insistence on access to the full fuel cycle is highly suggestive that it wishes to retain freedom of manoeuvre to develop nuclear weapons". The deal represents a "reprieve" from sanctions it will be tough to bring them back if things don't work out.

"The P5+1 countries, with the ludicrous Catherine Ashton speaking for Europe, have indeed made a historic and terrible mistake," says Douglas Murray in The Spectator, granting the regime in Tehran the time it needs to reinforce its power at home and continue the search for nuclear weaponry.

Foreign Secretary William Hague is now "a diminished figure trying to persuade a sceptical nation to support a demeaning deal". Indeed, "all he lacked was a winged collar, a piece of paper and the slogan: nuclear peace in our time'".

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri