The European Union and United States both said on Monday they will begin lifting economic sanctions against Iran following reports Tehran has started scaling back its uranium enrichment programme under the terms of a landmark deal with world powers.
A report by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released on Monday said that Iran had begun diluting its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium – a grade of uranium close to what is needed to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon.
This, along with other steps to curb its nuclear programme, means that a recent deal between Iran and six world powers - the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia – can now come into force.
The world powers have pledged to suspend several sanctions on Iran for six months, with a view to negotiating a longer-term deal during that period.
Following the IAEA report, the EU Council in Brussels said on Monday it had suspended “certain EU restrictive measures against Iran”.
The changes, which include easing trade in petrochemicals and precious metals and on the provision of insurance for oil shipments, were expected to go into effect later in the day.
US ‘will follow through on commitments’
Shortly afterwards, the US announced it “will today follow through on our commitment to begin to provide the modest relief agreed to with Iran”.
“At the same time, we will continue our aggressive enforcement of the sanctions measures that will remain in place throughout this six-month period,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
As well as diluting its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, Iran had stopped enriching uranium at above 5 percent and switched off centrifuges at its Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant and Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, the IAEA’s report said.
Iranian state television earlier said Iran had suspended 20 percent enrichment at Natanz and that inspectors were heading to Fordow.
“The suspension of 20 percent enrichment has started at the Natanz plant and the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors are going to the Fordow plant,” state TV quoted the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, as saying.
Enriched uranium can have both military and civilian purposes. Iran denies Western allegations that it has been seeking to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs, saying it wants only civilian atomic energy.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-01-20