As anticipated, the nuclear deal went into full effect Jan. 16 as Iran completed a series of steps to limit its nuclear activities, including mothballing thousands of centrifuges, sending out most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia and removing the core of a heavy water reactor and filling it with concrete. Taken together, these measures extend from several months to more than a year the time it would take Iran to amass enough fuel for a nuclear weapon.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), issued a statement announcing that he had submitted a report to the IAEA board and the UN Security Council “confirming that Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation” of the JCPOA.
Amano said the report was issued after “Agency inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under the JCPOA to enable Implementation Day to occur.”
Immediately after Amano’s announcement, European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif read a joint statement to reporters in Vienna announcing the lifting of all nuclear-related sanctions. The White House followed with an executive order from President Barack Obama authorizing the removal of those sanctions, which primarily affected the ability of foreigners to do business with Iran.
We’re really in uncharted territory now, I guess.
A few related links:
A joint statement from Federica Mogherini and Mohammed Javad Zarif making the announcement
John Kerry’s statement
A very good primer from Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association
A really interesting report from The New York Times‘s Tehran Bureau Chief, Thomas Erdbrink, on how Iranians are keeping their expectations about the nuclear deal in check:
The low-key reception given “implementation day,” when the nuclear deal was finally completed and Iran was freed to rejoin the international economy, reflected the multiple disappointments and broken promises Iranians have experienced in the two years the negotiations dragged on. While the government talked up the deal to lift people’s hopes, few expected to see any improvement in their lives.
“I haven’t seen any excitement,” said Ali Shoja, an office cleaner riding the Tehran subway on his way to work. “They speak of billions of dollars coming, but as in the past, I don’t expect those dollars to reach my pockets.”
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