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Deal or No Deal

In the early morning of 24 November in Geneva, an unexpected deal was announced between six world powers and Iran to limit its nuclear program.

As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated in a 5.00 a.m. press conference, it is only the start of a process, and could derail at any time, but doubts and distractors aside, it still represents a historic moment, with the potential to profoundly change relations between Iran and West, in conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

In exchange for a limited, and temporary reduction in sanctions, Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment to 5%, which is coherent with a civilian nuclear program, and neutralize weapons grade material. It will not install new centrifuges, a limit the production of those it already has. It will halt work on a new reactor, and allow more inspection of its facilities, as well as access to its scientists.

The deal was hammered out over three rounds of talks in Geneva, led by Catherine Ashton, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, and delegations from the U.S., Russia, China, U.K. France and Germany (officially titled the 'EU3/ +3'. Negotiations were held at the UN Palais des Nations, and when a deal seemed possible, in both the second and the third rounds, talks were extended, and foreign ministers flew in to take up residence in the Hotel Intercontinental, the luxury hotel then becoming the centre of discussions, drafts being hand delivered between rooms.
All was held behind closed doors, access to the UN was limited to an occasion pool visit, and a hungry and frustrated media not allowed past the lobby of the hotel, directed to a press centre in the basement of a separate conference centre a bus-ride away in freezing temperatures.

Just as the international media including a major Iranian contingent - was reconciled to failure and yet another rendezvous in Geneva in 15 days time, the deal was announced by twitter at 3 a.m., finally giving them something solid to feed a twenty four news cycle that had been filled with little more than frustrated speculation for weeks.

This series follows that process, of waiting for history to be made behind closed doors.

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