Stock Photo of nuclear power plant in Iran.
TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran and
six world powers have agreed on how to implement a nuclear deal struck in
November, with its terms starting from Jan. 20, the White
House said Sunday.
The announcement, made first by Iranian officials and later
confirmed elsewhere, starts a six-month clock for a final deal to be struck
over the Islamic Republic's contested nuclear program. It also signals an
easing of the financial sanctions crippling Iran's economy, though some U.S.
lawmakers have called for tough measures against the country despite ongoing
"Beginning January 20th, Iran will for the first time start eliminating
its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium and dismantling some of the
infrastructure that makes such enrichment possible," President Obama said in a statement.
"Iran has agreed to limit its enrichment capability by not installing or starting
up additional centrifuges or using next-generation centrifuges. New and more
frequent inspections of Iran's nuclear sites will allow the world to verify
that Iran is keeping its commitments. Taken together, these and other steps
will advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."
Iranian's official state news agency also reported the
news, quoting Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, but did not offer
Araghchi later told state television some $4.2 billion in seized
oil revenue would be released under the deal. Senior officials in U.S.
President Barack Obama's administration put the total figure at $7
billion. U.S. officials told reporters Sunday the most immediate
sanctions that will be suspended will be on Iran's imports of goods and
services for autos, oil, gold and precious metals, reports CBS News'
Under the November agreement, Iran agreed to
limit its uranium enrichment to 5 percent - the grade commonly used to power
reactors. The deal also commits Iran to stop producing 20 percent enriched
uranium - which is only a technical step away from weapons-grade material - and
to neutralize its 20 percent stockpile.
exchange, economic sanctions Iran faces would be eased for a period of six
months. During that time, the world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany,
Russia and the United States - would continue negotiations with Iran on a
permanent deal. Mr. Obama reiterated that
the U.S. will continue to pursue a broader sanctions regime and will even
increase economic penalties if Iran does not meet its commitments under the
European Union negotiator Catherine Ashton praised the deal
in a statement, saying "the foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth
implementation ... have been laid." German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier called the deal "a decisive step forward which we can build
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the deal in a
statement as well, saying further negotiations "represent the best chance
we have to resolve this critical national security issue peacefully, and
The West fears Iran's nuclear program could allow it to
build a nuclear bomb. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes, such as
medical research and power generation. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency
reported Sunday that under the terms of the deal, Iran will guarantee that it
won't try to attain nuclear arms "under any circumstance." However,
Araghchi stressed Iran could resume production of 20 percent uranium in
"one day" if it chose.
U.S. lawmakers have expressed
about whether the U.S. can trust Iran's promises and many senators - including
Mr. Obama's Democratic allies - are moving to implement a fresh round of
sanctions. The White House has
pushed back on their efforts and Mr. Obama has repeatedly pledged to veto any sanctions legislation that came across his desk.
sanctions and tough diplomacy helped to bring Iran to the negotiating table,
and I'm grateful to our partners in Congress who share our goal of preventing
Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," the president said Sunday. "Imposing additional sanctions now
will only risk derailing our efforts to resolve this issue peacefully, and I
will veto any legislation enacting new sanctions during the negotiation."
echoed Mr. Obama's threat with a plea for cooperation.
"We now have an obligation to
give our diplomats and experts every chance to succeed in these difficult
negotiations," Kerry said. "Now is not the time for politics. Now is the
time for statesmanship, for the good of our country, the region, and the world."
The continued threat of new sanctions from the U.S. Congress has caused anxiety in Iran, where hard-liners have already
called the deal a "poison chalice" and are threatening legislation to
increase uranium enrichment. Araghchi also said any new sanctions would halt the