Iran reaches deal opening nuke program
Daily inspections would begin Jan. 20
FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2010 file photo, a worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr. Iran and six world powers have agreed on how to implement a nuclear deal struck in November, with its terms starting from Jan. 20, officials announced Sunday. (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency, Majid Asgaripour, File)
Iran has agreed to limit uranium enrichment and to open its nuclear program to daily inspection by international experts starting Jan. 20, setting the clock running on a six-month deadline for a final nuclear agreement, officials said yesterday.
In exchange, the Islamic Republic will get a relaxation of the financial sanctions that have been crippling its economy.
The announcement that Iran and six world powers had agreed on the plan for implementing an interim agreement came first from Iranian officials and was later confirmed elsewhere. Some U.S. lawmakers have been leery of the agreement, calling for tougher sanctions against Iran, rather than any loosening of controls.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi as saying the deal, which sets the terms of a landmark agreement reached in November, would take effect from Jan. 20.
The agency said Iran will grant the United Nations’ watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency access to its nuclear facilities and its centrifuge production lines to confirm it is complying with terms of the deal.
Araghchi later told state television some $4.2 billion in seized oil revenue would be released under the deal. Senior officials in U.S. President Obama’s administration put the total relief figure at $7 billion.
In a statement, Obama welcomed the deal, saying it “will advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
“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,” Obama said.
Under the November agreement, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment to 5 percent – the grade commonly used to power reactors.
The deal also commits Iran to stop producing 20 percent enriched uranium – which is only a technical step away from weapons-grade material – and to neutralize its 20 percent stockpile over the six months.
In exchange, economic sanctions Iran faces would be eased for six months. During that time, the so-called P5+1 world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – would continue negotiations with Iran on a permanent deal.
The West fears Iran’s nuclear program could allow it to build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as medical research and power generation.
Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported yesterday that under the terms of the deal, Iran will guarantee that it won’t try to attain nuclear arms “under any circumstance.”
However, Araghchi stres-sed Iran could resume production of 20 percent uranium in “one day” if it chose.