PARIS, France – Iran has agreed to implement from Jan 20 an interim nuclear agreement with six world powers in a significant step forward that not only prevents the Islamic republic from obtaining an atomic weapon but also eases some financial sanctions against Tehran.
“We will begin implementation of the Joint Plan of Action that we and our partners agreed to with Iran in Geneva,” the US State Department said in a statement quoting Secretary of State John Kerry.
Nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi confirmed that Iran and six major powers have agreed that the deal will be implemented from Jan 20 onwards.
Tehran and world powers will start negotiating a final settlement of their differences about activity the West suspects is aimed at obtaining a nuclear weapons capability, Aqarchi said.
The State Department statement said that the implementation of the agreement will not only enable Iran to advance its nuclear programme but parts of it will also be rolled back
Under the interim accord, Iran has agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, which is the grade commonly used to power nuclear reactors.
That’s a big drop from Iran’s current production of 20 percent enriched uranium, which is only a technical step away from weapons-grade use.
Kerry helped negotiate this accord in November. He told reporters in the French capital Sunday that getting this joint plan of action underway is an important first step.
The US and its Western allies suspect Iran has been trying to develop the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons. Iran says its atomic programme is aimed purely at generating electricity and fuelling civilian atomic research.
“Iran will voluntarily take immediate and important steps between now and Jan 20 to halt the progress of its nuclear programme. Iran will also continue to take steps throughout the six months to live up to its commitments, such as rendering the entire stockpile of its 20 percent enriched uranium unusable for further enrichment,” the State Department statement said.
“As this agreement takes effect, we will be extraordinarily vigilant in our verification and monitoring of Iran’s actions, an effort that will be led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).”
It said that P51 partners (United States, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) will also take steps, “in response to Iran fulfilling its commitments, to begin providing some limited and targeted relief”.
“The $4.2 billion in restricted Iranian assets that Iran will gain access to as part of the agreement will be released in regular installments throughout the six months. The final installment will not be available to Iran until the very last day.”
Kerry stressed the US and its allies will work closely with UN nuclear inspectors to ensure that the terms of this deal are met. He said the international community is clear-eyed about the greater challenges of a more comprehensive agreement restricting Iran’s nuclear programme.
“We are very clear about what will be required in order to be able to guarantee to the international community that this is a peaceful programme. The negotiations will be very difficult, but they are the best chance that we have to be able to resolve this critical national security issue peacefully and durably,” the statement said.
President Barack Obama, in a written statement, said the United States and other nations will begin to give Iran “modest relief” on economic sanctions, as long as Tehran lives up to its end of the agreement.