China sends warplanes into disputed airspace over East China Sea

China has sent warplanes into disputed airspace over the East China Sea after Japanese and South Korean military aircraft flew through the area, the Chinese state news agency reported.

China’s air force spokesman Shen Jinke says several fighter jets and an early warning aircraft were sent on normal air patrols in the zone on Thursday. He was quoted by the state news agency Xinhua.

Shen described the flights as “a defensive measure and in line with international common practices”. He said China’s air force would remain on high alert and will take measures to protect the country’s airspace.

Japanese and South Korean aircraft flew through the airspace without informing China, officials said on Thursday, challenging a new Chinese air defence zone that has increased regional tensions and sparked concerns of an unintended clash.

China rejected South Korea’s demand for the repeal of the zone but appeared to soften its demand that commercial aircraft tell its military authorities of any plans to pass through the area. Japan’s two biggest airlines have already begun defying that order.

“This has already increased the risk [that the situation] will escalate from confrontation to conflict,” said Shi Yinhong, an expert on international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.

“I think China will take flexible measures towards any aeroplane that flies over the zone, and that will still be compatible with China’s declarations,” he added.

“America is not our direct enemy, and South Korea is our friend. But Japanese armed aircraft would be a different story. If they dare to come into China’s declared zone, the Chinese air force will take action.”

China announced the zone at the weekend, prompting criticism from Japan and the US. Some experts said it was aimed not only at chipping away at Tokyo’s control of disputed islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China, but also at challenging US dominance in the region. On Tuesday the US flew two unarmed B-52 bombers over the islands without informing Beijing.

“The East China Sea air defence identification zone is not aimed at normal international flights,” said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang. “We hope that relevant countries’ airlines can proactively co-operate so there is more order and safety for flights.”

Asked if China was worried it would be seen as a “paper tiger” in light of its response to the US flights, Qin advised reporters to check Mao Zedong’s use of the phrase. Mao used the term as a metaphor for “US imperialism” in 1956 – seemingly powerful, but easily crippled by adversity, he said. He wanted to stress that the Chinese government had adequate resolution and ability to defend its national sovereign rights and to control the zone.

“This was clearly very calculated, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a miscalculation,” said Scott Harold, an expert on east Asian security at the Rand Corporation. China probably thought that declaring the zone was no different from its past strategic actions in the region – small, incremental steps that might annoy neighbouring countries but wouldn’t cause them to react. Instead, it “inflamed an underlying suspicion that everyone had: that China is going to work in grey zones, push the envelope and expand its territorial sovereignty claims with every opportunity it gets”.

China essentially has two options, Harold said: it “can do nothing, and confirm to the outside world that its rise is as risky as some people thought. Or on the other hand, it can do something to reassure the region and the world that it is not going to be a threat.” For the Chinese leadership, the first could jeopardise a bevy of important diplomatic relationships; the second would entail a major loss of face.

“I don’t know if there’s an easy out here for China,” Harold added. “The easy thing would be if they’d never done it in the first place.”

Japan’s top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said on Thursday that the country had sent patrol planes into the airspace without informing China, and that China did not intercept them.

“They are carrying out surveillance activity as before in the East China Sea, including the zone,” he told a news conference, according to Reuters. “We are not going to change this (activity) out of consideration to China.”

Pet adoption fees waived for Black Friday at Daytona Beach shelter

For the third year in a row, Halifax on Friday is offering free adoptions of all black or predominantly black cats and dogs and a 50 percent discount on adoption fees for all other pets.

All pets, black or otherwise, will be spayed or neutered, up-to-date on vaccinations, have a registered microchip, and receive a free month of pet health insurance at no additional cost to adopters.

Halifax offered the same special on Black Friday in 2012 and was successful in adopting more than 70 pets, said spokesman Tyler Stover.

The shelter opens at 9 a.m. Friday. It’s at 2364 LPGA Blvd. (at the I-95 interchange) in Daytona Beach. For more information, call 386-274-4703.

Britney Unfiltered on 'Passionate' BF & New Music

ET’s Rob Marciano was the first entertainment news magazine reporter to sit-down with Britney Spears for a candid heart-to-heart on her relationship with boyfriend David Lucado, her upcoming album Britney Jean and her Las Vegas residency.

“I’m in love … I like the fact that [Lucado is] very stubborn and he’s stuck in his ways,” said Spears, 31. “He’s just a simple man. I adore him. He’s really funny and he’s really passionate. I love the fact that anything he’s involved in he’s passionate about and it’s contagious.”

RELATED PICS: InstaGrab: What Are the Stars Sharing?

Spears went on to confirm that she met Lucado through friends and her father ran a background check on him, “My dad’s a little crazy like that,” the pop princess quipped. She also admitted she’d like to have more children in the future but is unsure if she will wed again.

As for her music, Spears said the process of making her latest album put her in a good place mentally.

“I would say [the album] was kind of like therapy for me,” the former X Factor judge confessed. “It just kind of transformed me. As you write something your perspective changes. So, it was like my ‘good therapy record.’ I’m an artist so I think there are periods in everyone’s life where you get kind of reclusive, your creative outlet is cut off. Then sometimes it flows and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is what I need to be doing’ [which makes] it easier for you to be the artist that you want to be.”

RELATED: Check Out the Britney Jean Track Listing

Then there’s her Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood. Spears told Rob of the opportunity, “I’ve done two tours in the past three years and it’s so grueling being on the road and staying in a different bed every night, the schedule is insane. I just thought it would be ideal to have one place that I could go to and I could just travel back and forth to my home and [Las Vegas] and to have a show. It just felt like the ideal thing to do. So, I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be different, but I’m excited.”

Spears will be answering fan questions for @ETonlineAlert during a live Twitter handle-to-handle chat on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. ET.

Britney Jean is set to be released December 3, but in the meantime, check out Entertainment Tonight’s “Britney Blowout” starting on Tuesday, November 26.

Star Sightings: Celebrity Candids
Are These Celebs Too Tan?! Cast Your Vote!

Family Guy Kills Popular Character Brian Griffin

The top trending entertainment news today isn’t who wore what at the American Music Awards or Miley Cyrus’ giant kitten backdrop at the show.

Instead, it is the purported “death” of Brian Griffin, the beloved talking dog from the animated TV series Family Guy.

In the episode titled “Life of Brian” that aired yesterday night, Brian was unceremoniously run over by a car while setting up for a game of street hockey.

But like everything else in the animated world, the Griffins got a new dog and Brian was mostly forgotten by the episode’s end.

Acknowledged as a scheme to shock viewers by series creator Seth MacFarlane, the ploy might have worked too well however.

This morning, fans of Family Guy and Brian Griffin took their grievances to

In a digital petition, supporters stated Brian as a “…witty and sophisticated element to the show…”

It also added that “…Family Guy and Fox Broadcasting will lose viewers if Brian Griffin is not brought back to the show…”

There are over 3000 signatures on the petition already.

family guy brian griffin 02 Family Guy Killed Off Popular Character Brian Griffin: The Dog

via Clotheshorse

Judge Tosses Tom Cruise’s Nazi Argument in Bauer Media Libel Case

A federal judge tossed out Tom Cruise’s attempt to force Bauer Media to reveal its possible ties to Nazis on Tuesday, saying the connection to his libel suit against the multinational publisher of In Touch and Life Style magazines is just too weak.

The judge also denied Team Cruise’s request to force Bauer Media to reveal the identity of its anonymous sources for stories it wrote claiming that Cruise had “abandoned” his daughter Suri following his divorce from Katie Holmes.

In a Los Angeles federal district court, Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian was reluctant to let Cruise’s team explore the possibility of Bauer Media’s Nazi sympathies, saying it was outside the scope of the case — and adding that the defendants being sued are not the parent company anyway. 

Cruise was not in court, but his lawyer Bert Fields was there to make arguments in the discovery hearing, meant to determine what information lawyers would be able to dig up and present at trial.

Cruise sued Bauer for $50 million after Life Style and In Touch ran headlines in 2012 claiming he had “abandoned” his daughter Suri — which the “Mission: Impossible” actor vehemently denies. Cruise’s legal team asked the court to compel Bauer to admit to Nazi connections, arguing that would show the publications were biased against him for his Scientology connections and his anti-Nazi film “Valkyrie.”

Bauer lawyers argued that Cruise’s request for Nazi admissions was “grossly over broad, offensive and harassing,” stressing that there was no connection between the editors on the Cruise articles and the German owners of their magazines, and adding that Bauer has Jewish and gay employees — so the accusations of bigotry are unfounded.

Also read: In Touch Tabloid Publisher – Mired in Tom Cruise Lawsuit – Trades in Nazis, Porn and Sometimes Both (Exclusive)

Chooljian sided with Bauer in tossing out the Nazi angle, but suggested that Cruise’s lawyers can appeal her decision. Asked by TheWrap whether they’d mount such an appeal, Cruise lawyer Aaron Moss said, “I don’t know. We’ll have to talk about that.”

Fields expressed disappointment in the Nazi portion of the ruling but suggested that Cruise would prevail at trial in spite of it.

Cruise also wanted Bauer’s magazines to reveal their anonymous sources — or admit that they didn’t have any in the first place. The judge quickly ruled that Bauer does not have to reveal its sources’ identities, but insisted that the publisher have all of its sources and witnesses entered into the record at this time; she even made Bauer sign a sworn declaration — on penalty of perjury — that it not bring forth any “surprise” witnesses when it comes time for trial.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report from U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.


The post Judge Tosses Tom Cruise’s Nazi Argument in Bauer Media Libel Case appeared first on TheWrap.

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‘Recipe for disaster’: Haitian human smuggling on the rise

U.S. Coast Guard photo/Handout via Reuters

Approximately 100 Haitians sit on the hull of a sail freighter after it grounded and capsized 15 nautical miles southwest of Staniel Cay, Bahamas, on Tuesday. At least 30 Haitian migrants were killed in the incident, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday.

MIAMI – Twice this month, an often-repeated tragedy at sea occurred again, leaving at least 35 dead.

On Monday night, a grossly overcrowded Haitian sail freighter capsized about 15 nautical miles from Staniel Cay, in the Bahamas, throwing more than 140 people into the water. The U.S. Coast Guard says at least 30 of the migrants died. The rest were found clinging to the hull of the ship when rescue crews arrived at the scene.

Earlier this month, along a rocky and barren island near the Puerto Rican coast, Coast Guard officials say a group of immigrant smugglers ferrying 18 Haitians by boat from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico forced all their passengers overboard and ordered them to swim to Mona Island as the smugglers then sped away.

Five of the passengers couldn’t make it to shore in the rough seas and drowned.

“The immigrant smugglers don’t choose to run up nice and soft onto the beach and let the people off gently. They’ll stop 20, 30 yards off the rocks and literally force the people out of the boat to swim for it,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, Chief of Enforcement for the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District in Miami.

“You have some folks who might not swim at all. You have children that are in these boats and they’re trying to swim across rough water in surf conditions onto a rocky outcropping. It’s a recipe for disaster,” he added.

Smugglers using new route
In the past year, authorities say, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of Haitians crossing the treacherous waters of the 80-mile-wide Mona Passage which separates the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico. This year alone, law enforcement officials have intercepted more than 2,100 Haitians being smuggled there, compared to just 139 Haitians in the previous four years combined.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic are neighboring countries that share the island of Hispaniola. Dominican smugglers frequently cross the land border now to recruit Haitians for an illegal boat ride to Puerto Rico, a United States commonwealth.

“The (smuggling) network is entrenched enough that they’re able to reach back into Haiti and basically advertise their services,” said Fedor. 

If Haitians can make it Puerto Rico, they are one step-closer to the U.S. mainland – for many, the ultimate destination.

Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

A rocky outcropping on the shoreline of Mona Island. Smugglers often shove their human cargo overboard and order them to swim to the island – which is very dangerous in rough seas. Migrants often drown trying to reach the rocky shore.

The smugglers reportedly charge from $1,000 to $2,000 per passenger, and it’s believed much of that money comes from Haitians living in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. 

“I think what you are seeing is a lot of family members sending money back home to bring their relatives to the United States,” said an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE.

Smugglers are increasingly choosing the route to Puerto Rico over the more traditional maritime path from Haiti to the Bahamas and then into South Florida. The Bahamas route was favored for many years and is still used, but traffic there slowed dramatically after the Coast Guard stepped up patrols in the Windward Passage and the Atlantic Ocean, and Florida prosecutors brought cases against smugglers that led to significant prison terms.

The problem with the Puerto Rican route, though, is that it is extremely perilous.

“Here you have rough waters and rocky shorelines,” said the ICE official. “This is an incredibly dangerous journey. This is the time of year when the seas are getting much more rough.”  

The Puerto Rican coast is also not as hospitable as the sandy beaches in Florida and the Bahamas. Haitian passengers ferried in small wooden motorboats, called “yolas,” are often dropped off near rugged Puerto Rican islands with high cliffs, leaving it to chance that someone will eventually come along to find them.

‘Thousands try, hundreds die’
Most of the Haitians who take to the sea are fleeing the extreme poverty in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere which in 2010 was devastated by a massive earthquake. 

Eighty percent of Haiti’s population lives below the poverty line. Most Haitians don’t have formal jobs, can’t find enough to eat and don’t have access to adequate housing and medical care. 

Still, officials and Haitian community leaders say the extreme risks of boarding a smuggling boat are too high. 

“These smugglers are opportunists, they don’t care about anything, they don’t care about you, they are about making money by any means necessary,” said Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of Haitian Women of Miami, a political activist group.

“They are preying on desperate people who would risk anything, anything, in search of a better life somewhere else,” Bastien said.

In about two weeks, the Coast Guard and the Haitian community in Miami are planning to hold a news conference to unveil a humanitarian campaign urging Haitians to stay away from smugglers and to not finance their operations. 

A radio and TV public service announcement will be released in Florida, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands. Its theme is, “Thousands Try, Hundreds Die. Do Not Take to the Sea.”

Coast Guard Lt. Commander Gabe Somma said the campaign message is clear: “Smugglers are not looking out for you and are taking advantage of you. It’s dangerous and they can’t be trusted.”

Coast Guard officials say they have no way of knowing how many Haitians have perished in the ocean over the years, but they suspect the number is substantial and could climb even higher if the warnings against smuggling are ignored.

“Our fear is you’re going to get a large load, maybe not in such good conditions, they’re going to drop these people off near one of these islands and the potential for massive loss of life is there,” said Fedor.

Those dangers came into clear focus again on Oct. 16 when a motorboat illegally transporting 15 Haitians from the Bahamas to Florida overturned seven miles from Miami Beach

Authorities were alerted when one of the passengers made a 911 call for help. Four women drowned in the incident and the boat captain and a crew member were indicted for allegedly causing their deaths.



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Pet health News, Breaking Pet health News and More: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Foods not to feed a dog or cat

For more infomation on foods that should not be fed to the dog or cat, Linda Sackman, health staff manager at the Pasadena Humane Society SPCA, recommends visiting WebMD ( and viewing its slideshows.



Also, read about how the experts say about giving pets as gifts here.

’Tis the season for eating and many are tempted to include pets in the celebrations, but beware: Some traditional holiday food could lead to sickness and even death for dogs and cats.

“There is a very long list of things that are possibly toxic to dogs and every single one of them has a different organ toxicity and level of toxin volume per weight of the animal,” said Linda Sackman, health staff manager at the Pasadena Humane Society SPCA.

A dog’s age and health also may make a difference in its response to certain foods, she added.

Some of the most obvious holiday no-nos for dogs include alcoholic beverages and bones. Bones may splinter and cause obstructions in the digestive system. Pet owners also should be cautious about giving dogs fatty scraps, Sackman said, because overfeeding them can cause pancreatitis.

Uncooked potatoes and potato skins can be poisonous, but dogs attracted to the enticing smells of garbage might eat potato peels. Keep the trash secure.

Resist giving pets holiday cookies off the table. While it’s common knowledge that chocolate is toxic to dogs, cats, birds and other animals, Sackman said nuts — which can be found in those holiday cookies — can be toxic as well.

While dogs can tolerate peanuts and almonds, walnuts can cause intestinal blockage, and macadamia nuts can cause tremors, weakness and paralysis.

“Err on the side of caution: If some nuts are toxic, let’s not give them any,” said Carol Ann Heinis, behavior supervisor at the Pasadena Humane Society shelter.

Grapes and raisins can cause renal failure. Pitted fruits such as plums and apricots are dangerous because dogs usually will not spit out the pits, which can cause obstructions. Many pits also contain cyanide.

Avocados are not recommended for any pet, as they are toxic to most animals.

Yeast dough may look yummy to a dog, but bakers should be careful when baking around their pets, cautioned Sackman. Dough expands in the stomach and can cause blockage. It also can sit in the stomach and ferment into alcohol.

Heinis warns about xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can be fatal to dogs. Found in chewing gum, bread, cookies and other products, xylitol can increase a dog’s insulin blood level, causing his sugar level to drop, which leads to a hypoglycemic state.

“My dogs and I have a routine that they don’t get to eat anything unless it’s put down on the floor and I let them have it,” Sackman said.

Sackman added that cats have problems with the same foods, but onions are particularly dangerous to them.

Onions in high concentration can cause cats to go into hemolytic anemia, a breakdown of the red blood cells. One source is baby food, which can contain onion powder; that can be as bad as the cat getting into the stuffing for the turkey dinner.

Coffee isn’t good for any pets. Drinking coffee can give the furry four-legged friends tremors and heart arrhythmia. Cats also need to be kept away from holiday tinsel, lilies and lily water, poinsettias and berries from holiday plants.

“With cats, it’s a lot more about curiosity and toying with inappropriate items that will get them into trouble,” Sackman said.

Reptiles, birds and other exotic pets are usually not free-roaming and so are less susceptible to getting into things they shouldn’t. As a general rule, anything that would not be a part of their regular diet shouldn’t be fed to them as a festive diet either.

Even harmless foods can give pets problems. Overfeeding cats with tuna, for example, can give them mercury poisoning, Sackman said.

“You have to evaluate how much you’re really feeding, and with guests in the house, it’s the general overfeeding,” Sackman said. If 20 people are in the house, and all of them give the same scraps to the family dog, “the total of it can be devastating,” Sackman said.

One little piece of white meat from the turkey is fine, Sackman said. The idea is to offer just a taste. The same goes for giblets, which should be cooked and mixed in with a small bite of the pet’s regular food. Think of it as flavoring the food; too much turkey can upset a dog’s or cat’s tummy.

“When I want to treat my animals, I give them plain meat,” Sackman said. “It doesn’t have to be special, but it should be boneless. No salt, no nothing, just simmer it in water and mix it with rolled oats or rice.

“If you really want to be fancy, you can add cooked squash. Thyme is an acceptable spice.”

No matter how careful people may be with their pets, Sackman emphasized that owners should be prepared for an emergency. That means pet owners should know where the nearest 24-hour emergency veterinarian’s office is located, as well as its phone number and hours.

Also, keep the phone number for ASPCA Animal Poison Control handy: 888-426-4435. A consultation with an emergency technician is $65.

The best holiday gift anyone can give a pet is time.

“It’s always more valuable to have a 30-minute one-on-one time spent together giving them your full attention,” Sackman said. “I’m sure they’re going to be more appreciative of a longer walk than a meal that may ultimately make them sick.

“With the holiday festivities in mind, let’s focus on what’s important, and that’s being together and giving each other special time instead of material things.”

For some recipes and directions to make safe treats and gifts for that special furry friend, go to the Pasadena Humane Society SPCA’s Just for Kids page under Programs at

Hannah crashes out of X Factor

Hannah crashes out of X Factor

© Press Association 2013

Hannah Barrett has left The X Factor (ITV/PA)

Tamera Foster dramatically survived being booted off the X Factor tonight despite forgetting her lyrics, as fellow teen Hannah Barrett crashed out of the singing contest.

Sixteen-year-old Foster was heavily criticised by the judges for fluffing her lines on last night’s show – the third time she had failed to remember her words for a performance this series.

The student from Kent looked shocked as host Dermot O’Leary revealed she had escaped the bottom two on tonight’s results show.

Barrett, 17, and boyband Rough Copy were left to battle it out in the sing-off after receiving the fewest votes from the public.

But an emotional performance of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind was not enough to save Barrett as three of the four judges voted for the south London trio.

Nicole Scherzinger and Sharon Obsourne branded the bottom two result a “travesty”, while Louis Walsh said both acts “sing with heart” and “remember all the words!”

Voting to send Rough Copy home, Barrett’s mentor Scherzinger said: “I just can’t believe this. These two acts should be in the finals, they shouldn’t be stand here.

“I’m so disappointed and and furious with the British public right now that they have my girl in the bottom two for the third time. I just think it’s a travesty.”

Osbourne, who chose to send Barrett home, added: “On last night’s performance it’s a travesty that Hannah should be here and Rough Copy.”

Gary Barlow, who is mentor on the show to Rough Copy, told both acts “it’s amazing you’re in the bottom two”, before voting for Barrett to leave.

Walsh, whose casting vote sent Barrett out of the competition, said: “It was an amazing sing off. It’s amazing that you’ve got two such talented acts and they remember all the words!

“They sing with heart and they sing with soul. I don’t want to send anybody home.”

After the result, Barrett, from Croydon, south London, said: “I’m so blessed to be here. I just thank God for everything I have.”

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Lindsay Lohan Is Not Afraid of Little People

Lindsay LohanPacificCoastNews

Lindsay Lohan is not afraid of little people, despite a recent report that says otherwise.

The denial of this fear comes in the wake of a Life Style story that claimed the redheaded actress suffers from achondroplasiaphobia, a “fear of short people.”

“In 2006, at the Chateau Marmont, she was with pals when two little people walked by and she started having a major anxiety attack!” a source told the mag about the 27-year-old starlet. “She hyperventilated,” the insider added. “Someone had to give her an anti-anxiety pill to calm her down. She kept saying, ‘I’m so scared of them!'”

PHOTO: LiLo Flaunts Major Side Boob in Topless Selfie

Little People of America, a nonprofit organization that “provides support and information to people of short stature,” responded to the mag and offered some advice for LiLo. 

“Lohan should treat her fear the same as she would a fear of any other protected minority population. If that fails, she might find diversity training to be useful.”

Except she doesn’t need any help because this phobia is untrue.

“Lindsay loves all people,” a rep for Lohan told E! News.

—Additional reporting by Baker Machado

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Western powers reach deal with Iran over its nuclear program

The exact details remain unclear, but NBC’s Ann Curry says this initial first step in the deal is historic, but may set off backlash for some in Iran.

By Ann Curry, NBC News National and International Correspondent

GENEVA — Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders from five other world powers early Sunday reached a nuclear deal with Iran, following intense negotiations that took place over several days in Geneva.

The deal represents a historic breakthrough in the world’s decade-long nuclear standoff with Iran, and in the 35-year-long diplomatic freeze between Iran and the United States.

The deal was struck with astonishing speed given the history of failed negotiations, coming in just the third round of talks over less than two months. The breakthrough also comes less than three months after Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani promised, in an interview with NBC News, to dramatically alter Iran’s relationship with the world.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said the agreement was an important step toward reaching a long-term comprehensive solution. She added that the deal shows participants’ “mutual respect and determination to find a way forward which is beneficial to all.”

At a news conference, Kerry said the agreement could not have been reached without the Iranians’ decision to come to the negotiating table. He said the next phase of negotiations – while even more difficult – will also be more consequential, and he added: “If this first step leads to what is our ultimate goal – which is a comprehensive agreement – that will make the world safer.”

Iran and six of the world’s powers – the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia – agreed on a “first step deal” that is meant to limit advancements in Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing some of the economic sanctions that have deeply hurt Iran’s economy.

According to the White House, the deal stipulates that Iran will commit to halt uranium enrichment above 5 percent and also to neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium. The Islamic Republic has also committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity. Iran will also halt work at its plutonium reactor and provide access to nuclear inspectors. 

President Obama says the historic nuclear deal with Iran is a first step.  He added, the U.S. will continue to implement tough sanctions, but won’t impose new ones if Iran meets its commitments during the next six months.

These steps, President Barack Obama said late Saturday, will “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb.”

In exchange, the United States and its allies have agreed to offer Iran “modest relief” from economic sanctions and access to a portion of the revenue that the country has been denied through these sanctions. No new sanctions will be imposed, Obama said. 

All six world powers had sent in their foreign ministers hours before the deal was announced, and several purposely gave the impression it was their participation that was needed to carry the ball across the finish line. Once the ministers arrived, the negotiations set a marathon pace, not ending until about 3 a.m. local time in Geneva (9 p.m. ET).

While the “first step” deal is currently set to last for a period of just six months, it has provided a massive sense of relief on all sides in Geneva as it is expected to make Iran less capable of  building a nuclear bomb for the time being, while at the same time easing the financial pain Iran’s economy has been enduring under the sanctions.

Perhaps most significantly, it also makes a final comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the world suddenly more possible.

There is little doubt, however, that the sticking points included Iran’s insistence that it has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, and the tacked-on proposal that Iran stop construction of a heavy water facility in Arak. Iran has said the facility is needed to create medical isotopes for cancer treatments, but it could also make Iran more quickly capable of building a bomb.

NBC’s Chuck Todd discusses skepticism critics are likely to express over a deal with Iran, but what an effective one might mean for President Obama and his administration.

How exactly these sticking points were resolved will greatly influence the expected political fallout in the United States and Iran. Some members of Congress are threatening new sanctions in the U.S., and hard-liners in Iran are harshly accusing Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Javad Zarif of giving up too much in the negotiations. Indeed, a sense of national pride appears to drive a rising backlash from even moderates and liberals in Iran.

Adding to the hurdles, the deal is also designed to be not only temporary but reversible depending on whether the promises made by both sides are fully kept. One of the agreements, for example, is that Iran give inspectors broader access to nuclear sites, and allow spontaneous inspections.

Then there is also the matter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s increasingly vociferous objections, and the negative impact the negotiations appear to have had on U.S.-Israeli relations. It will likely also affect U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, a Sunni nation, which is threatened by signs of improved U.S. relations with Shia Iran.

Any final comprehensive agreement is expected to have vast implications on the political and financial landscape in the Middle East, given Iran’s oil resources, and the billions of dollars an end to sanctions could unlock.

Remarkably, the first-step deal announced Sunday, was virtually inconceivable before Rouhani’s dramatic phone conversation with Obama in September. 

The speed of the negotiations, which now continue toward a final agreement, are a measure of how much both leaders want to end the nuclear standoff before the window of opportunity closes.

NBC News’ Becky Bratu contributed to this report. 


This story was originally published on