Date
28 March 2017
President Barack Obama has ordered concerned government departments to take steps to fulfill US commitments under the deal with Iran. Photo: White House
President Barack Obama has ordered concerned government departments to take steps to fulfill US commitments under the deal with Iran. Photo: White House

US, European Union prepare to lift sanctions on Iran

Iran moved closer to the lifting of sanctions after the United States and the European Union took formal legal steps that will lift years of a crippling economic embargo once Tehran meets the conditions tied to a landmark nuclear agreement with major world powers.

The legal acts have no immediate effect but cement a process that began with a deal reached in July to end sanctions against Iran, Reuters reports.

The agreement calls for curbs on a program that the West suspected was aimed at developing a nuclear bomb.

For the waivers to come into force, Iran, which has always denied seeking nuclear weapons, must now demonstrate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it has restricted its nuclear program as promised, a process that Western officials say is likely to take at least two months.

Sunday was “adoption day” for the agreement clinched in Vienna by Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China and endorsed 90 days ago by the United Nations.

The European Union formally enacted the legislative framework for lifting all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions on Iran by publishing the documents on its official website.

In Washington, President Barack Obama directed the secretaries of state, treasury, commerce and energy to “take all necessary steps to give effect to the US commitments with respect to sanctions described in [the Iran deal].”

“Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward,” he said in a statement.

Iran had passed a law on Oct. 14 approving the terms of the nuclear deal.

A range of restrictions have been imposed on Iran over several decades, dating back to 1979 when Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran.

But it was the US and EU sanctions imposed in 2012, which targeted Iranian oil exports and international financial transactions that inflicted most economic pain on Iran and its people.

Germany’s foreign minister said the EU sanctions were likely to remain in place at least until January.

A senior western diplomat based in Europe added: “Implementation can be expected to take place at the end of the year or the beginning of next year, but of course only once the IAEA has given the green light.”

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RC/RA

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