UN inspectors visited Iran's Arak heavy water production
plant last month, the BBC reports. Photo Getty
A deal between Iran and six major powers intended to pave
the way to a solution to a long standoff over Tehran's nuclear
ambitions will come into force on January 20, the Iranian
Foreign Ministry and the European Union say.
Shortly after the interim accord takes effect, an Iranian
official added, Tehran and world powers will start
negotiating a final settlement of their differences about
activity the West suspects is aimed at obtaining a nuclear
Iran says its atomic energy programme is aimed purely at
electricity generation and other civilian purposes, although
past Iranian attempts to hide sensitive nuclear activity from
U.N. non-proliferation inspectors raised concerns.
The Nov. 24 agreement appeared to halt a slide towards
another, wider Middle East war over Iran's nuclear
aspirations, but diplomats warn it will not be easy to carry
out because of longstanding mutual mistrust.
The Iranian official, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi,
said the deal would allow Iran to stop complying if it saw
its partners not living up to their own commitments.
"We don't trust them," he told state television, reflecting
ingrained suspicions between Iran and the West that underlie
what have been protracted negotiations.
In Washington, President Barack Obama said the United States
and other nations would begin to give Iran "modest relief" on
economic sanctions as long as the Islamic Republic lived up
to its end of the agreement.
Obama said he would veto any new sanctions passed by the U.S.
Congress during talks on a long-term deal with Iran, but said
Washington would be prepared to increase its sanctions if
Iran fails to abide by the agreement.
"Capitals have confirmed the result of the talks in Geneva
... The Geneva deal will be implemented from Jan. 20,"
Marzieh Afkham of the Iranian Foreign Ministry told reporters
in Tehran, the semi-official Mehr news agency said.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also
confirmed the date, and said the sides would now ask the
United Nations' nuclear watchdog to verify the deal's
"We will ask the IAEA to undertake the necessary
nuclear-related monitoring and verification activities," she
said in a statement, referring to the International Atomic
SENSITIVE NUCLEAR WORK
Ashton represents the six powers - the United States, Russia,
China, France, Britain and Germany - in contacts with Iran
related to its contested nuclear programme.
Senior officials from the European Union and Iran met in
Geneva on Thursday and Friday to iron out remaining practical
questions related to the implementation of the Nov. 24 deal,
under which Iran agreed to curb its most
proliferation-sensitive nuclear activity - higher-level
uranium enrichment - in return for some relief from Western
Such relief would include suspension of some restrictions on
trade in gold, precious metals and petrochemicals, and in the
auto industry. The deal allows third-country purchases of
Iranian oil to remain at current levels. Some $4.2 billion in
oil revenues would be allowed to be transferred to Iran.
EU spokesman Michael Mann said on Friday that any agreements
would need to be validated by the governments of Iran and the
The accord is designed to last six months and the parties
hope to use the time to negotiate a final, broad settlement
governing the scope of Iran's nuclear programme.
Giving details about the deal, Deputy Foreign Minister
Araqchi told state television that each party's commitments
would be implemented "in one day".
"After the first step is taken, then in a short period of
time we will again start our contacts for resumption of
negotiations for the implementation of the final step."
He added: "We don't trust them... Each step has been designed
in a way that allows us to stop carrying out our commitments
if we see the other party is not fulfilling its commitments."
Under the terms of the interim deal, Iran must limit its
enrichment of uranium to 20 percent fissile purity for a
period of six months as the price for relaxation of some
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic energy organisation,
said on Saturday it would have no choice but to step up
enrichment to the 60 percent threshold if a bill now moving
through parliament is approved - even though it has no
current need for such highly-enriched uranium.
The bill's supporters say uranium refined to 60 percent
concentration would be used to fuel nuclear-powered
submarines. That would put Iran on the technical verge of 90
percent fissile purity, which is enough for the core of an
The measure has received expressions of support from at least
218 of parliament's 290 members and, if passed, could
threaten progress toward a resolution of the nuclear dispute.
The parliament is much more hawkish than moderate President
Hassan Rouhani on the nuclear issue.
But some see the proposal, put forward last month, as a
response to a bill introduced by hardline conservatives in
the U.S. Senate that would impose stiffer sanctions on Iran,
which Western diplomats fear would shatter the nuclear