Following more than a decade of crisis and two years of intense negotiations, the United States, other major world powers, and Iran have implemented a nuclear agreement that trades long-term constraints on Iran’s nuclear program for the lifting of U.S. and European sanctions targeting Iran. Today, for the first time in a decade, Iran’s nuclear program no longer poses a threat to the United States, and U.S. and European sanctions on Iran – which have for so long damaged Iran’s economic well-being and undermined the potential of its people – have been lifted.
Saturday – Jan. 16 2016 – 22:10 – Iran Deal in Vienna – joint press statements on implementation day by Federica Mogherini, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Javad Zarif at the Vienna International Centre, M Building Ground Floor
Iran took a huge step to ending its international isolation Saturday as sanctions on the Islamic republic were lifted following the entry into force of last July’s momentous nuclear deal with major powers.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, helped launch the Herculean diplomatic effort towards the July 14 Vienna deal, said it was a “glorious victory” for the “patient nation of Iran.”
“Implementation Day” for the accord came after the International Atomic Energy Agency said its “inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures” agreed under the agreement.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, representing the six world powers, said that as a result “multilateral and national economic and financial sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme are lifted”.
These will include sanctions on Iran’s lifeblood oil exports and open up the 80-million-strong country to business. Rouhani has predicted a “year of prosperity” for his country.
“This achievement clearly demonstrates that with political will, perseverance, and through multilateral diplomacy, we can solve the most difficult issues,” Mogherini said in Vienna in a joint statement with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The announcement also followed news of a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States in another sign of thawing relations between the two foes since the agreement was struck.
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.
Iran has always denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities are exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.
“Today… the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world are safer because the threat of the nuclear weapon has been reduced,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it was a “significant milestone that reflects the good faith effort by all parties to fulfil their agreed commitments.”
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, one of the six powers with the US, Russia, China, France and Germany, said that “years of patient and persistent diplomacy… have borne fruit”.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called the implementation of the nuclear deal “a historic success for diplomacy”.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said a historic nuclear deal reached last summer between Iran and six world powers would go into effect on Saturday.
“Today is a good day for the Iranian people, and the sanctions will be annulled today,” Mr. Zarif told reporters after arriving in Vienna to conclude the implementation.
The deal is expected to take effect following the release of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency verifying that Iran completed a number of preliminary commitments, including shutting down thousands of uranium-enrichment centrifuges and removing the reactor core at its Arak heavy-water facility near Tehran.
Mr. Zarif said he would meet with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini following an expected joint statement announcing the implementation of the deal.
Mr. Zarif said the meetings would “make sure the [nuclear deal] is carried out appropriately.”
Mr. Zarif said the deal’s implementation would present an opportunity for further cooperation between Iran and other countries in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East.
“We are ready and we hope that our neighbors and the international community cooperate to fight against this dilemma,” he said.
Under the July deal, Iran agreed to curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.