Iran, Sextet to Take Proportional Steps under Geneva Deal
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran and the six major world powers agreed that a landmark nuclear deal, reached in Geneva last November, would come into force on January 20, with the two sides gearing up to take balanced, proportional steps in a period of six months to pave the way for a final solution.
Iran and Group 5+1 (the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany) on Sunday reached an agreement to start implementing the Geneva nuclear deal as early as January 20.
The two sides had on November 24 signed a six-month deal on Tehran’s nuclear program based on which the world powers agreed to suspend some non-essential sanctions and to impose no new nuclear-related bans in return for Tehran's decision to freeze parts of its nuclear activities and to allow more inspection of its nuclear facilities.
The Geneva deal also stipulates that over the course of six months, Iran and the six countries will draw up a comprehensive nuclear deal which will lead to a lifting of the whole sanctions on Iran and Tehran will provide the world verifiable guarantees that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes.
Seyed Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal and international affairs and one of the country’s top negotiators, told reporters on Sunday that once Iran begins to implement the Geneva deal (also known as the Joint Plan of Action), the six powers will begin to ease sanctions on Tehran.
He had met Deputy EU Foreign Policy Chief Helga Schmid in Switzerland on Thursday and Friday to iron out remaining practical questions related to the implementation of the November 24 deal.
Araqchi has also emphasized that both Tehran and the six powers will proceed to implement the Geneva deal in a balanced way.
Giving details about the deal, Araqchi announced in televised interview on Sunday that each party's commitments would be implemented "in one day".
Based on the interim deal, the world powers agreed to suspend some non-essential sanctions and to impose no new nuclear-related bans in return for Tehran's decision to suspend its 20% enrichment for a period of six months.
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.
Some sanctions relief would start on the first day of the six-month agreement's implementation --January 20 -- and some will be withheld until its final day.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Araqchi added that the other side will release $4.2 billion in Iranian frozen assets in eight tranches and Iran, in return, will oxidize its 20% enriched uranium in balanced steps.
Iran has committed the other side to diluting half of its 20 percent enriched uranium to no more than 5 percent enriched uranium, however, on the basis of a timetable which is proportional to the release of its blocked revenues held abroad.
The Iranian official also made it clear that 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... 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," Araqchi argued.
"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.
He said the six-month period would be renewable only once, meaning the two sides might agree to extend the deal for another six months in order to hammer out a final accord.
However, Araqchi noted, the negotiations for starting the final step, outlined in the Joint Plan of Action, would take “at most one year”.
The Iranian top negotiator further noted that the final step in the Joint Plan of Action does include a provision that has explicitly stipulated that Iran will be entitled to enrich uranium according to its needs.
As regards the limits for the level of uranium enrichment, which might be open to interpretation, Araqchi said the two sides have achieved a consensus that the limit of Iran’s enrichment needs will be defined jointly by both parties.
In Washington, US President Barack Obama said Sunday that his country 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 also asserted that he would veto any new sanctions passed by the US Congress during talks on a long-term deal with Iran.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has also announced that the sides would now ask the UN nuclear watchdog to verify the deal's implementation.
"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 Energy Agency.
The European Union liaises with Iran on behalf of six world powers in diplomatic efforts related to Tehran's peaceful nuclear program.