Iran, EU Announce Implementation Of Nuclear Deal
January 16, 2016
Iran and the European Union agree that Tehran has kept its nuclear promises and that sanctions relief for Iran can now be implemented.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the agreement at a press conference in Vienna January 16.
The two leaders said in a joint statement, 'This achievement clearly demonstrates that, with political will, perseverance, and through multilateral diplomacy, we can solve the most difficult issues and find practical solutions that are effectively implemented.'
The agreement is backed by the United States, whose top diplomat John Kerry took part in meetings in Vienna on January 16 but was not at the press conference.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order revoking U.S. sanctions on transactions by non-Americans with the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company.
The EU procedure for lifting sanctions is expected to be rapid. An official decision of the European Council, which brings together leaders of all 28 EU members, is required to finalize the process, together with a publication in the EU's Official Journal.
The total international sanctions relief for Iran is worth an estimated $100 billion.
The announcement of implementation comes shortly after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said earlier on January 16 that Iran has complied with its preparatory commitments under the nuclear deal signed between Tehran and six world powers in July.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued a report concluding that 'Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.'
To meet its preparatory commitments under the July deal, Iran was required to slash by two-thirds its uranium centrifuges, reduce its stockpile of uranium, and to remove the core of the Arak reactor which could have given Iran weapons-grade plutonium. Prior to the deal, Iran had enough enriched uranium for several bombs.
The July deal between Tehran and six world powers is intended to extend to at least a year the length of time Iran would need to make one nuclear bomb's worth of fissile material. Iran's nuclear program will be subject to close IAEA inspections to assure ongoing compliance. The West had accused Iran of pursuing a nuclear bomb, something Iran denied.
The sanctions levied on Tehran over its nuclear activities had cut off Iran from the global financial system, significantly reduced the exports of a major oil producer, and imposed economic hardship on ordinary Iranians.
The nuclear deal is opposed by all of the Republican candidates vying to succeed Obama in the U.S. presidential election in November. It is also viewed with deep suspicion by U.S. allies in the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.
But the deal is supported by Washington's European allies, who joined Obama in tightening sanctions on Tehran as part of a joint strategy to force Iran to negotiate.
Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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