US, Europe remove sanctions as Iran nuclear deal takes effect
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US, Europe remove sanctions as Iran nuclear deal takes effect

UN nuclear watchdog confirms Iran has lived up to all its obligations under accord, opening the door for 'Implementation Day'

(Left to right) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif , IAEA director general Yukiya Amano and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrive for a news conference in Vienna on January 16, 2016 (AFP / APA / HANS PUNZ)
(Left to right) Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif , IAEA director general Yukiya Amano and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini arrive for a news conference in Vienna on January 16, 2016 (AFP / APA / HANS PUNZ)

The UN atomic watchdog said Saturday that Iran has complied with last July’s nuclear deal, and American and European officials in Vienna immediately announced that deal was officially implemented, and that nuclear sanctions on the Islamic republic had been removed.

Under authority delegated to him by US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry signed documents confirming the US government had received the report and waivers to implement the lifting of US Congressional sanctions.

“I hereby confirm that the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that Iran has fully implemented its required commitments… The US sanctions-related commitments… are now in effect,” Kerry said.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that “As Iran has fulfilled its commitments, today, multilateral and national economic and financial sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are lifted in accordance” with the July deal.

The statements came after the International Atomic Energy Agency said that its “inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under the (July deal)… to enable Implementation Day to occur.”

Certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency will allow Iran to immediately recoup some $100 billion in assets frozen overseas. Iran will also see huge benefits from new oil, trade and financial opportunities after Western sanctions against it are lifted.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) in Vienna, Austria on January 16, 2016 (AFP/ POOL / KEVIN LAMARQUE)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) in Vienna, Austria on January 16, 2016 (AFP/ POOL / KEVIN LAMARQUE)

IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said this means “relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase. It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality.”

The announcement came after Kerry met in Vienna with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The steps taken by Iran, combined with ultra-close IAEA inspections, extend to at least a year — from a few months previously — how long Iran would need to make one nuclear bomb’s worth of fissile material.

They include slashing by two-thirds its uranium centrifuges, reducing its stockpile of uranium — enough before the deal for several bombs — and removing the core of the Arak reactor which could have given Iran weapons-grade plutonium.

In what was hailed as a momentous diplomatic breakthrough, the Vienna agreement was nailed down after two years of rollercoaster negotiations following the June 2013 election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The highly complex deal drew a line under a standoff dating back to 2002 marked by failed diplomatic initiatives, ever-tighter sanctions, defiant nuclear expansion by Iran and threats of military action.

In addition it put Iran and the United States on the road to better relations some 35 years after the Islamic revolution that toppled the US-backed shah, and at a particularly explosive time in the Middle East.

Zarif, who led Iran in nuclear talks with the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany, said the deal had removed from the Middle East “the shadow of a baseless confrontation.”

“It proved that we can solve important problems through diplomacy, not threats and pressure, and thus today is definitely an important day,” he added. The deal, he said, proved that “the naysayers are always wrong.”

 

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