The Latest: Top US, Iranian diplomats focus on clinching nuclear deal

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Graphic shows major elements of Iranian nuclear deal; 2c x 8 inches; 96.3 mm x 203 mm;

VIENNA (AP) – Iran’s foreign minister suggested Saturday that the U.N. atomic agency is close to certifying that his country has met all commitments under its landmark nuclear deal with six world powers, as he began a series of meetings with his European Union and U.S. counterparts on implementing the accord.

“All oppressive sanctions imposed against Iran will be annulled today,” Mohammad Javad Zarif said in comments on Iranian state TV – a reference to the start of the process that will end financial and other penalties imposed on his country once the U.N. agency says Tehran has fulfilled its obligations to restrict its nuclear programs.

Certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency would allow Iran to immediately recoup some $100 billion in assets frozen overseas. The benefits of new oil, trade and financial opportunities from suspended sanctions could prove far more valuable for Tehran in the long run.

Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who met Saturday morning, were to be joined later by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna, headquarters of the IAEA. Kerry’s plane landed in the early afternoon.

Zarif said the deal between his country and the six world powers would hold, telling Iranian media that all parties would “not allow the outcome of these talks to be wasted.”

The agreement, struck after decades of hostility, defused the likelihood of U.S. or Israeli military action against Iran, something Zarif alluded to.

“Our region has been freed from shadow of an unnecessary conflict that could have caused concerns for the region,” he said. “Today is also a good day for the world. Today will prove that we can solve important problems through diplomacy.”

Iran insists all of its nuclear activities are peaceful. But under the July 14 deal, Iran agreed to crimp programs which could be used to make nuclear weapons in return for an end to sanctions.

The agreement puts Iran’s various nuclear activities under IAEA watch for up to 15 years, with an option to re-impose sanctions should Tehran break its commitments.

 

Previously Reported:

11:20 a.m.

The EU’s top diplomat has met with Iran’s foreign minister for talks on implementing the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, as the U.N. atomic agency works on a report certifying that Iran has met its commitments under the accord.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will join Federica Mogherini of the European Union and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Vienna, the headquarters of the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency, later Saturday.

IAEA certification that Iran is honoring its obligations would trigger sanctions relief for Iran worth an estimated $100 billion.

Under the July 14 deal between Iran and six world powers, Tehran Iran agreed to crimp programs it could use to make nuclear weapons in return for an end to international nuclear-related sanctions

Iran says it has no interest in such arms.

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11:15 a.m.

Iranian hard-liners are accusing moderate President Hassan Rouhani of “burying” the country’s nuclear program as Tehran and world powers are on the verge of implementing a historic nuclear accord.

Under the front-page headline “Nuclear Burial,” Hard-line daily Vatan-e-Emrooz on Saturday criticized the removal of the core of Iran’s only heavy water reactor, which was filled in with cement earlier this week as one of the final steps under the agreement.

The Javan daily says filling in the reactor is “hurting national pride.”

It says the Iranian people hope that the “bitterness of filling the Arak reactor with cement will be accompanied with the sweetness of filling their table,” referring to the lifting of crippling international sanctions.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif earlier said that the imminent release of a U.N. compliance report would trigger “Implementation Day,” with Iran receiving billions in sanctions relief in return for limiting its nuclear activities.

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10:40 a.m.

Iran’s foreign minister says an imminent compliance report by the U.N. nuclear agency will trigger the implementation of the historic nuclear accord reached with world powers last year, bringing a “good day” for Iran.

Mohammad Javad Zarif says the report will mark “Implementation Day,” when world powers provide Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for it curbing its nuclear program.

Speaking in Vienna on Saturday, where he was to meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini, Zarif called for greater cooperation to fight the “terrorism and extremism” that has engulfed the Middle East. His comments were broadcast on state TV.

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