The nuclear deal between world powers and Iran comes into effect Sunday, beginning a series of steps to be undertaken by both parties to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in return for lifting economic sanctions.
The accord was reached in July following two years of negotiations between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.
In a statement Sunday Philip Hammond, Britain’s Foreign Secretary, said: “This is a landmark day for an historic deal, marking the culmination of a decade of talks between the U.K., our partners, and Iran.
“This will ensure that a nuclear weapon remains beyond Iran’s reach, thus creating a safer region while opening opportunities for Iran to re-engage with the international community as sanctions are progressively lifted,” he added.
Under the deal, Iran must submit formal answers to questions from the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency about suspected past nuclear weapons research. President Obama must issue waivers to suspend nuclear-related U.S. sanctions on Iran, and the European Union must begin the process of terminating its sanctions on Iran.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged Iran to meet its obligations, including allowing nuclear inspections, while on a visit to Tehran on Saturday.
“Now it’s Iran’s turn to meet the requirements that were agreed in exchange for an agreement to lift sanctions,” Steinmeier said, according to German news agency dpa. He added: ” We will know only in a few months whether the agreement was a success.”
Iran maintains its nuclear program is only used for peaceful purposes such as power generation and medical treatment, but it has balked at giving inspectors unfettered access to its nuclear sites to confirm that claim. Obama has said the inspections will be the most intrusive ever approved.
Speaking at Indiana University last week, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “We are moving now to the implementation stage, and it is essential that we will maintain our vigilance, our unity of approach and our common purpose.
“Now, the Middle East remains a deeply troubled place, but every problem in the region would be made much worse if countries were to move towards nuclear weapons.”
The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution codifying the nuclear agreement on July 20. On Sunday, Iran announced it test fired a long-range precision-guided ballistic missile even though such tests appear to be banned under the Security Council resolution.
Speaking Friday, President Obama said the firing of the missile would not derail the nuclear agreement.
Contributing: Oren Dorell
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