US Sanctions against Iran lifted after compliance with Nuclear Deal
By Bachir El Nakib
IAEA declares that Tehran has fulfilled its obligations, triggering dismantling of network of punitive measures and normalisation of Iran’s relations with west
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, has ordered that nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran be lifted after a final report by the International Atomic Energy Agency verified that Tehran had fulfilled its obligations under last year’s nuclear agreement.
In a statement, Kerry said the sanctions termination provisions of Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement were now in effect. President Barack Obama delegated authority to Kerry to make the determination. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, told reporters in Vienna: “Today we have achieved Implementation Day of the joint comprehensive plan of action,” referring to the deal sealed last July.
The move came after the IAEA’s decision late on Saturday that Tehran had successfully complied with the terms of the deal. That announcement in turn followed the release of four dual nationals and a teenage student in a prisoner swap with the US. They included the Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, who was held on charges of spying for over a year. The Iranian-Americans were released in exchange for seven Iranian nationals held in US prisons, apparently for violating sanctions. The timing of the prisoner swap implies that the issue had been discussed on the sidelines of the nuclear talks despite denial from both sides.
Earlier in the day, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, had hailed the milestone as “a good day” for Iran and for the international community. The lifting of sanctions puts Iran on the brink of an extraordinary transformation as it comes in from the cold to normalise its relations with the west. In the words of a report by leading Russian investment firm Renaissance Capital, Iran is “the last remaining sizable global economy that has been cut off from international capital to reopen”.
“Today, with the submission of the report by the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, [the deal] will in fact become implemented,” Zarif told reporters before the announcement, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV.
The removal of sanctions will have a huge impact inside Iran and internationally. Iranian banks will soon re-establish connections with the European financial system, and private firms can now pursue business opportunities without fear of western punishment. About $30bn (£21bn) of a total of $100bn in frozen assets will be released to Iran imminently.
The lifting of sanctions, which will include an end to an EU embargo on imports of Iranian oil, will also affect the global oil market as Tehran is expected to immediately add almost half a million barrels per day to crude exports. This is likely to add to downward pressure on an oil price that is already plummeting due to oversupply.
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