Easing of Iran sanctions could start in December

a a a a
Share this story
Show Related Headlines
Related Articles
Does Iran nuclear deal block path to bomb?
Canada "deeply skeptical" of Iran nuclear deal
Analysis: Iran deal leaves Israel few options
Israeli leader: Iran deal 'historic mistake'

PARIS (AP) -- European Union sanctions against Iran could be eased as soon as December, officials said Monday, after a potentially history-shaping deal that gives Tehran six months to increase access to its nuclear sites in exchange for keeping the core components of its uranium program.

The deal, announced Sunday, envisages lifting some of the sanctions that have been crippling the country's economy. The sanctions were in response to fears that Tehran is using its nuclear program to build atomic arms. Iran denies it wants such weapons.

"A Europe-wide decision is necessary" to ease EU sanctions French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio. "That's expected in several weeks, for a partial lifting that is targeted, reversible."

"It could be in December, it could be in January, it depends on how long the legislative process takes," EU foreign affairs spokesman Michael Mann told reporters in Brussels.

The United States and the European Union have separate sanctions on Iran. Easing the European restrictions would affect numerous areas including trade in petrochemicals, gold and other precious metals, financial transfers to purchase food and medicine, and the ability of third countries to use EU-based firms to insure shipments of Iranian oil again.

Mann said work on amending the EU regulations was already beginning, but cautioned that changes depend on the Iranian government living up to its end of the deal.

"It's important that both sides of the bargain are implementing this agreement, so we would coordinate timing-wise also with the Iranian side," the EU spokesman said.

The deal reached Sunday will allow Iran to keep the central elements of its uranium program while stopping its enrichment at a level lower than what is needed for nuclear arms. In addition to a six-month window for Iran to allow more U.N. access to nuclear sites, sanctions will be eased - notably in the oil, automotive and aviation industries - though not ended.

The agreement is a first step - one that Israel has condemned as a "historic mistake" that effectively accepts Iran as a threshold nuclear weapons state. Israel has found common cause with Saudi Arabia, which shares concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran and Tehran's growing regional influence.

On his return to Tehran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif told state television that the country was prepared for quick follow-up negotiations to keep the deal on track.

"We are ready to begin the final stage of nuclear agreement from tomorrow," said Zarif, who was greeted by hundreds of cheering students.

Many Iranians appeared upbeat about the deal and the possibility of an eventual end to sanctions, such as blocks on access to international banking networks that have crippled businesses and made once-routine transactions - such as paying tuition for a student abroad - a complicated process.

But hard-line groups remained highly wary of any close cooperation with Washington.

An editorial in the conservative daily Kayhan described the U.S. as a deceitful power that could renege on its pledges even if Iran sticks with its part of the deal.

"The U.S. was not trustworthy. The Geneva deal lasted only one hour," it said in its front-page headline, referring to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's comments that there was no recognition of Iran's "right" to enrich uranium.

Iran insists that trying to block enrichment was a dead end. For Iran's leaders, self-sufficiency over the full scope of its nuclear efforts - from uranium mines to the centrifuges used in enrichment - is a source of national pride and a pillar of its self-proclaimed status as a technological beacon for the Islamic world.

In the end, Iran agreed to cap its enrichment level at 5 percent, far below the 90 percent threshold needed for a warhead. Iran also pledged to "neutralize" its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium - the highest level acknowledged by Tehran - by either diluting its strength or converting it to fuel for research reactors, which produced isotopes for medical treatments and other civilian uses.

In return, Iran got the rollback in some sanctions - a total package estimated by the White House at $7 billion back into the Iranian economy over six months - but the main pressures remain on Iran's oil exports and its blacklist from international banking networks during the first steps of the pact.

---

Matthew Lee contributed from Washington, John-Thor Dahlburg from Brussels and Ali Akbar Dareini from Tehran. Murphy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More World News
On Easter, Pope calls faithful to expand faith
On Easter, Pope calls faithful to expand faith

Pope Francis baptized 10 people Saturday and urged them to bring their faith "to the ends of the Earth" as he presided over an…

13 more bodies found in sunken S. Korean ferry
13 more bodies found in sunken S. Korean ferry

Divers have recovered 10 more bodies from inside the ferry that sank off South Korea. The confirmed death toll is now 46.

Holy fire ceremony draws thousands to Jerusalem
Holy fire ceremony draws thousands to Jerusalem

The dark hall inside Christianity's holiest shrine was illuminated with the flames from thousands of candles on Saturday as worshippers…

Everest avalanche a reminder of risk for Sherpas
Everest avalanche a reminder of risk for Sherpas

The rescuers moved quickly, just minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared…

Student fought bureaucrats for Holocaust justice
Student fought bureaucrats for Holocaust justice

After beginning her crusade in 2011, Charlotte van den Berg has possibly won a battle for Jewish Holocaust survivors against Amsterdam. The…

Sub search for missing jet to be finished soon
Sub search for missing jet to be finished soon

A robotic submarine looking for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet is expected to finish searching a patch of the Indian Ocean seabed within a…

Pope leads torch-lit Good Friday procession
Pope leads torch-lit Good Friday procession

Pope Francis is presiding over a torch-lit Way of the Cross procession at the Colosseum marking Good Friday in Rome.

Arrest warrant issued for Korean ferry captain
Arrest warrant issued for Korean ferry captain

Prosecutors say they've asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago,…

Christians mark Good Friday in the Holy Land
Christians mark Good Friday in the Holy Land

Christians in the Holy Land are commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in Good Friday prayers and processions through Jerusalem's…

PHOTOS: Prince George takes first trip
PHOTOS: Prince George takes first trip

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge take a royal trip to New Zealand and…