Ban welcomes interim agreement on Iran's nuclear program

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the interim agreement reached about Iran's nuclear program on Saturday and urged the involved governments to continue negotiations, according to the U.N.

In a statement released on Saturday, Ban congratulated the negotiators in Geneva for making progress on what he said could be the start of a historic agreement for the Middle East and the rest of the world. He urged the P5+1 and Iran to build on the encouraging start and create mutual confidence.

"(Ban) calls on all members of the international community to support this process which, if allowed to succeed, is likely to be to the long-term benefit of all parties," a spokesperson for Ban's office said.

Ban also reaffirmed his commitment to strengthening nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Iran and the U.N.'s atomic energy watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, recently signed a joint statement in which they agreed to strengthen their cooperation and dialogue.

Iran's nuclear program was and continues to be a matter of international concern. In 2003, it was discovered the country concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in violation of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

Iran's officials have said the program is for peaceful purposes. Other countries contend the program is to be used for military purposes.