Iran expects deal to come into force in January

Iran's deputy foreign minister says he expects the nuclear deal with the West to enter into force in early January.

Ben Ariel ,

Natanz nuclear facility
Natanz nuclear facility

Iran expects the nuclear deal with major powers to enter into force in early January, when Tehran will have implemented its commitments, Iran's deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said Tuesday, according to AFP.

"We expect it will be in early January," Araqchi told reporters in Vienna after meeting the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN atomic watchdog which is tasked with verifying the accord.

Under the July 14 deal with six powers, Iran undertook to dramatically scale back its nuclear program.

This includes reducing by two-thirds the number of centrifuges which purify or "enrich" uranium, making it suitable for nuclear power generation but also for a nuclear bomb.

In addition Iran agreed to reduce its stockpile of uranium and modify a new reactor it is building at Arak.

In exchange, the six world powers -- the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany -- will lift the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran over its nuclear program in recent years.

Just last week, the IAEA released a report which determined that Iran had violated the terms of its nuclear deal with the West by increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium in the past three months by 460.2 kilograms.

However, according to a senior diplomat, the current increase is the result of a normal fluctuation and "there is nothing special in that."

The report also showed that Tehran still has a way to go to fulfill its commitments under the nuclear deal, seeing as it has so far removed around 4,500 centrifuges, meaning that it still has to take down some 10,000 more.

Araqchi said Tuesday that talks with Russia on buying Iran’s stockpile in exchange for raw uranium have been completed.

"Discussions have already been concluded between Iran and Russia and the deal (should take place) soon," he said, according to AFP.

He added though that the uranium would only go to Russia once the UN watchdog has completed its probe into the so-called "possible military dimensions" (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program and once this has been approved by the watchdog's board.

This probe concerns allegations, rejected by Iran, that at least until 2003 Tehran conducted research into making nuclear weapons. Tehran has always denied pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The IAEA is expected to release a final report on its investigation next week ahead of a December 15 meeting of the IAEA board, according to AFP.

Earlier this month it was also revealed that Iran had stopped dismantling its centrifuges at the Natanz and Fordow uranium enrichment plants, breaching the nuclear deal that calls for the dismantling.

Despite revelations that his country is breaching the deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently threatened to abandon the accord all together, if the United States imposes any new sanctions unrelated to Tehran's nuclear program.

"The obligations are the following: the group of six will not impose new sanctions, and we should fulfill the agreements. In case the Unites States or other countries fail to comply with their obligations, we will be forced to do the same," Rouhani told the Italian Corriere della Sera paper.

Rouhani went on to say Iran is in dispute with the U.S., given Tehran's demands that all sanctions against it be lifted as part of the nuclear deal. The U.S. maintains that the nuclear deal only has nuclear sanctions lifted but not others - such as those over Iran's rampant human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program and active support of terror as the leading state sponsor of terror.