Iran and the US on Sunday said that a landmark deal that Tehran struck with world powers on its disputed nuclear program is to take effect from Monday next week.
Under the deal reached in November last year, Tehran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear drive for six months in exchange for receiving modest relief from international sanctions and a promise by the so-called P5+1 powers not to impose new measures against its hard-hit economy.
“Both sides reached the same interpretation on how to implement the agreement and the first step will be executed from Jan. 20,” Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, was quoted by IRNA news agency as saying.
The White House was quick to confirm the news, but US President Barack Obama said there was still a rough road ahead before a comprehensive solution can be nailed.
“Beginning January 20th, Iran will for the first time start eliminating its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium and dismantling some of the infrastructure that makes such enrichment possible,” his statement said. “With today’s agreement, we have made concrete progress. I welcome this important step forward, and we will now focus on the critical work of pursuing a comprehensive resolution that addresses our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. I have no illusions about how hard it will be to achieve this objective, but for the sake of our national security and the peace and security of the world, now is the time to give diplomacy a chance to succeed.”
After two days of exhaustive talks, Iran and the EU agreed on Friday on how to implement the deal on containing Tehran’s nuclear program.
The EU represents the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia plus the US — in the decade-long nuclear negotiations.
On Friday, Araqchi had said solutions were found for unspecified points of disagreement, but that each country must approve the deal for it to take effect.
On Sunday, IRNA quoted him as saying: “Finally today we reached an agreement with P5+1 on how to implement the first phase of the agreement.”
“The agreement and solutions we found in Geneva were accepted by six countries and on this side, the relevant bodies made the necessary evaluation and also gave them their approval,” the Web site for Iran’s state television quoted him as saying.
Iran and world powers have held several sessions of talks in Vienna and Geneva to fine-tune the deal in the past weeks and the target date of Monday was reached at the last round in Geneva.
Diplomats said there were three main hurdles at the last session of negotiations, namely over a new generation of Iranian nuclear centrifuges that could potentially enable Tehran to purify uranium to a weapons-grade level.
Western nations and Israel have long suspected Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program, charges Tehran strenuously denies.