London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Global media this week was dominated by news and reactions to the historic nuclear deal signed in Geneva on Sunday between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers.
Iranian politicians and citizens celebrated Sunday’s much-anticipated agreement between Iran and the P5+1, with the country’s leading Kayhan newspaper dubbing the deal a “historic breakthrough.”
Iranian news outlets expressed enthusiasm for the deal, highlighting positive outcomes such as the release of USD 8 billion of frozen Iranian assets and the easing of oil-associated insurance and shipment restrictions.
Along with the enthusiasm of the Iranian press, hundreds of supporters greeted the negotiating delegation led by Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif as they arrived back in Tehran on Sunday night. Zarif was hailed as the “Ambassador of Peace” by the waiting crowd.
Iranian state news agency, IRNA, also published comments from the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi. Salehi congratulated the negotiating team, saying that he believed that “Iranian youth would face a brighter future thanks to the efforts made by the country’s authorities.”
Regional outlets have largely shared Iran’s domestic optimism. Syrian state news agency SANA quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official who labelled the deal as an “historic agreement” and warmly welcomed the move.
However SANA, which has become increasingly known for its biased pro-Assad coverage over the course of the Syrian uprising, used the announcement of the nuclear deal to highlight the surrender of its own chemical weapons stockpile.
“Syria believes that reaching such an agreement is evidence that political solutions to the crises of the region are the best means to ensure the security and stability of the region away from foreign intervention and threats of the use of force,” SANA quoted the official as saying.
The Israeli media reacted strongly to news of the deal, with all media outlets highlighting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the agreement. He announced that the Geneva deal was “not a historic agreement, it was a historic mistake,” during Sunday’s weekly Israeli cabinet meeting.
The move was largely interpreted by Israeli media as a diplomatic blow to Tel Aviv, with a number of opinion writers openly criticizing America’s part in the agreement.
A news analysis piece published in the Jerusalem Post stated that the Iranian deal “takes high and unnecessary risks, and rests on shaky foundations that might just end up collapsing, bringing international sanctions down with them.”
The analysis warned of Iran potentially flouting future negotiations, particularly as the Geneva deal recognizes Tehran’s “right” to produce low-enriched uranium. The article, written by Jerusalem Post military/national security correspondent Yaakov Lappin, concludes by speculating about the possibility of an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear sites should Sunday’s deal fall through.
While Israeli newspaper Haaretz also reported Netanyahu’s dismay at the deal, it adopted a slightly more optimistic tone by including statements from other officials at Sunday’s ministerial meeting. The newspaper quoted President Shimon Peres who reiterated that the agreement must be “judged by results, not words.”
The Israeli newspaper published an official editorial commenting on the Iranian nuclear deal and Israel’s response to it. The Haaretz editorial, entitled “Give Iran deal a chance”, called on Netanyahu to “give the agreement a chance and strengthen the likelihood that an agreement with Iran is preferable to a threat without an agreement.” The editorial described the Israeli prime minister’s outburst before cabinet as “destructive,” stressing that “automatic opposition and threats isolate Israel, and weaken its power to influence future agreements with Iran.”
American news outlets took a similarly divided view of the deal, reflecting the divided nature of the US political arena. The Washington Post highlighted the many challenges that lay ahead, particularly in convincing regional allies over the merits of the deal and the future drafting of a more comprehensive agreement.
Well-known Washington Post writer David Ignatius tackled the Geneva deal in an op-ed entitled “To reach Iran deal, secret diplomacy that worked.” Ignatius hailed the diplomatic efforts at Geneva, saying: “This was secret diplomacy that a Henry Kissinger could appreciate.”
He added: “Obama, the covert commander in chief, showed once again that he acts most effectively out of sight.”
As for The New York Times, its news coverage also focused on the challenges that lie in store for the agreement, in addition to how it affects wider US interests in the region. The newspaper’s editorial board published an op-ed affirming that “the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers is an important step toward resolving the increasingly dangerous dispute over Iran’s progress on production of a nuclear weapon.”
The editorial, entitled “Getting to Yes With Iran”, added: “The deal buys time to work on a long-term solution that constrains Iran’s nuclear program and guarantees that it is put to peaceful use. That will be even harder to achieve, and the risks will be even greater, if negotiations fail. It is crucial that talks on the next phase begin very soon since the next six months will fly by.”