The economic sanctions on Iran have been lifted after the country’s compliance with obligations under its nuclear agreement with world powers was certified.
The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, announced the lifting of sanctions in accordance with the deal “as Iran has fulfilled its commitment”.
International nuclear watchdog IAEA said its inspectors had verified that Iran had taken the required steps.
A deal between Iran and world powers was agreed in July 2015.
The IAEA’s Director General Yukiya Amano said it was “an important day for the international community”.
Lifting the international sanctions on Iran will unfreeze billions of dollars of assets and allow Iranian oil to be sold internationally.
As part of the deal, Iran had to drastically reduce its number of centrifuges and dismantle a heavy-water reactor near the town of Arak, both of which could be used in creating nuclear weapons.
Iran has always maintained its program is peaceful, but opponents of the deal – such as some US Republicans – say it does not do enough to ensure the country cannot develop a nuclear bomb.
Secretary of State John Kerry has ordered that US nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran be lifted.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the nation following the IAEA announcement. The deal “had “borne fruit,” Hassan Rouhani tweeted, adding that he took “a bow before a patient nation like ours”.
On the same day it emerged that Iran had released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-American prisoners in an apparent prisoner swap with the US.
Jason Rezaian, 39, was jailed on charges, including espionage, in November 2015.
America said it was offering clemency to seven Iranians being held in the US for sanctions violation.
According to the UN nuclear agency, Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms.
The conversion of its stock of 20%-enriched uranium was part of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
The US said last week it would unblock $2.8 billion in frozen Iranian funds in return for Iran’s compliance.
A four-month extension to talks on Iran’s nuclear ambitions was agreed on Friday between Iran and world powers.
The talks are aimed at persuading Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
Iran has turned all of its enriched uranium closest to the level needed to make nuclear arms into more harmless forms
The six world powers involved in the talks – the US, France, China, Russia, Germany and the UK – suspect Iran seeks atomic weapons, which Iran denies.
The country insists that it is enriching uranium for use in nuclear power stations and for medical purposes.
Correspondents say Iran’s completion of eliminating its most worrying uranium stockpile is a promising sign that its leaders do not want to derail the diplomatic process.
A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran is observing all of its other commitments as well.
Iran had more than 200 kg of 20%-enriched uranium when the preliminary agreement to convert it was reached last November.
At 20%, enriched uranium can be converted quickly to arm a nuclear weapon and experts said 200kg was enough to make one nuclear warhead.
Negotiations between the six powers and Iran are set to resume in September, with the deadline for an agreement on November 24.
The parties have been unable to reach agreement on imposing long-term restrictions over Iran’s uranium enrichment and plutonium production – processes that could yield material for nuclear warheads.
In a joint statement after last week’s talks, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “There are still significant gaps on some core issues which will require more time and effort.”
A deal could see the lifting of oil and trade sanctions on Iran.
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