Iran expects July’s landmark nuclear deal with major powers to enter into force in early January, when Tehran will have implemented its commitments, Iran’s deputy foreign minister said Tuesday.
“We expect it will be in early January,” Abbas Araqchi told reporters in Vienna after meeting the head of the UN atomic watchdog, which is tasked with verifying the accord.
Under the July 14 deal with six powers that ended a potentially dangerous decade-long standoff, Iran undertook to dramatically scale back its nuclear program.
This includes reducing by two-thirds the number of centrifuges which purify or “enrich” uranium, making it suitable for nuclear power generation but also for a nuclear bomb.
In addition Iran agreed to reduce its stockpile of uranium and modify a new reactor it is building at Arak.
In exchange, the six world powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — will lift painful sanctions.
An IAEA report last week showed that Tehran still has a way to go to fulfill its commitments under the nuclear deal.
The report said that Iran has so far removed around 4,500 centrifuges, meaning that it still has to take close down another 10,000.
The report also showed that so far, no changes have taken place at Arak and Iran’s stock of enriched uranium has even grown slightly.
Under the July deal Iran has to reduce this stock by some eight tonnes.
Araqchi said that talks with Russia on buying this material in exchange for raw uranium have been completed.
“Discussions have already been concluded between Iran and Russia and the deal (should take place) soon,” he said.
He added though that the uranium would only go to Russia once the UN watchdog has completed its probe into the so-called “possible military dimensions” (PMD) of Iran’s nuclear program and once this has been approved by the watchdog’s board.
This probe concerns allegations, rejected by Iran, that at least until 2003 Tehran conducted research into making nuclear weapons. Tehran has always denied pursuing a nuclear weapon.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to release a final report on its investigation next week, diplomats say, ahead of a December 15 meeting of the IAEA board.
“As you know the shipment of our stockpile of enriched uranium out of Iran can only be done after the closure of PMD by the board,” Araqchi said.
He added that he had held “wrap up” talks on Tuesday with the IAEA on the probe and that it was headed “in a good direction.”