, VIENNA, Jan 17 – Iran took a huge step to ending its international isolation 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, whose 2013 election 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.