Tuesday

21st May 2019

US and EU prepare to lift Iran sanctions

  • Negotiators from leading UN states and Iran clinched the deal in Vienna in July (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

The US and the EU are slowly dismantling Iran sanctions in return for its implementation of the nuclear accord.

The White House said on Sunday (18 October) it has “directed that the heads of all relevant executive departments and agencies” are to “begin preparations … [for] relief from nuclear-related sanctions”.

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It added that its “tough, principled diplomacy” created the deal, which “will result in cutting off all four pathways Iran could use to develop enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon”.

US treasury secretary Jacob Lew said the process is helping to forge “a more secure international community”.

The EU Council the same day published the legal acts which will dissolve Europe’s restrictive measures.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini and Iran’s foreign minister Moammed Zarif, in a joint statement, called the move “another important milestone” toward fulfilling the non-proliferation deal.

The US and EU announcemnents correspond to what diplomats call “adoption day” of the accord reached between world powers and Iran in Vienna in July.

The sanctions will be lifted on “implementation day” - the moment the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, verifies Iranian compliance, a development expected in early 2016.

The US said the Iranian measures are to include “removing thousands of centrifuges and associated infrastructure, reducing its enriched uranium stockpile from approximately 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms, and removing the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor and filling it with concrete”.

Senior officials from the EU institutions, China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia, the UK, and the US will meet in Vienna on Monday to create a new commission to monitor compliance.

The EU, in January, already suspended some sanctions on insurance and services for Iran’s oil industry, on trade in gold and precious metals, and on some types of financial transactions.

The lifting of the remaining sanctions will open up Iran’s oil and gas industries to Western investors.

But the US is to keep human-rights related measures in place.

UN-level embargoes on arms sales and ballistic missile technology will also stay in place for five to eight years.

For his part, Masoud Soltanifar, Iran’s tourism chief, at the weekend told the AP news agency the detente should lead to Iran opening its doors to more foreign visitors.

"In the post-sanctions era, tourism is an industry that will get a boost more than any other sector”, he said.

"Tourism is certainly the driving engine to get Iran's economy out of recession. Iran's tourism sector is a flourishing market for investors. We are anticipating a tsunami of tourists after sanctions are lifted".

"American tourists and investors are welcome”, he added, despite the recent sentencing of a US journalist on espionage charges.

The US and EU intitiative still faces opposition in the US.

"The Obama administration's belief that this nuclear agreement can usher in a new era of partnership is a complete misread. It's sure tough to look at Iran's actions … and think Tehran will live up to its end of the nuclear bargain”, Ed Royce, a senior congressman from the opposition Republican party said on Sunday.

But a Republican bill to stop the White House from going ahead fell by the wayside in a vote last month.

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