The US and EU have announced the lifting of international sanctions on Iran following the announcement of International Atomic Energy Agency that the country is complying with its nuclear-related obligations agreed last summer.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano first made the announcement Saturday that Iran completed necessary preparatory steps to start implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The world powers’ group P5+1, which includes China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus Germany, the European Union, and Iran reached a nuclear framework deal on July 14, 2015, that was called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
On October 18, 2015, the agreement became effective and participants began to make preparations for the implementation of their agreements.
"Today, I released a report confirming that Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The report was submitted to the IAEA board of governors and to the United Nations Security Council," Amano said in his statement released on the official IAEA website.
Amano said the report was issued after agency inspectors on the ground verified that Iran had carried out all measures required under the JCPOA to enable "Implementation Day" to occur.
"This paves the way for the IAEA to begin verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the agreement, as requested by the UN Security Council and authorized by the IAEA board," he said.
"Relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase. It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality, especially the group of countries known as the E3/EU+3, Iran and the IAEA Board," he added.
The IAEA chief also underlined that in line with its commitments, Iran will start to provisionally implement the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and that together with other nuclear-related measures under the JCPOA, increased the agency’s ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran and to verify that they are peaceful.
"We have come a long way since the IAEA first started considering the Iran nuclear issue in 2003. A lot of work has gone into getting us here, and implementation of this agreement will require a similar effort. For our part, we are ready to get on with the job," he added.
The announcement paved the way for the US and EU to lift international sanctions against Iran.
US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement Saturday, saying: "I hereby confirm that the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified that Iran has fully implemented its required commitments as specified in Sections 15.1-15.11 of Annex V of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)."
"The US sanctions-related commitments described in Sections 17.1-17.5 of Annex V of the JCPOA are now in effect," Kerry added.
Later, the White House also released a short statement saying that US President Barack Obama signed executive orders confirming the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.
Joint Zarif, Mogherini statement
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also read out a joint statement in Vienna.
“The EU and E3+3 countries, consisting of the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America, and Iran will also cooperate in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, in the framework of the JCPOA,” the joint statement said.
“UN sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program are lifted….The EU has confirmed that the legal framework providing for the lifting of its nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions is effective. The United States today is ceasing the application of its nuclear-related statutory sanctions on Iran, including terminating relevant executive orders and licensing of certain activities, as specified in the JCPOA,” it said.
“This achievement clearly demonstrates that with political will, perseverance, and through multilateral diplomacy, we can solve the most difficult issues and find practical solutions that are effectively implemented. This is an encouraging and strong message that the international community must keep in mind in our efforts to make the world a safer place,” the statement added.
Kerry welcomes deal
Later, Kerry also held a press conference in Vienna in which he said the landmark event marked the first day of a safer world.
He said that the verification process remained the backbone of the agreement and that they welcome Iran because it kept its word.
The senior US official also said that they will remain vigilant in verifying Iran’s compliance “every hour of every day” in the years ahead.