Sanctions on Iran lifted

By Ann Marie Awad  |  Updated Jan. 17, 2016 at 1:31 PM
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VIENNA, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- The International Atomic Energy Agency has announced that Iran has completed the steps to implement the nuclear deal.

The IAEA released a statement Saturday evening confirming that the deal was ready to move forward thanks to Iran's compliance.

"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," said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano in the statement. "For our part, we are ready to get on with the job."

World leaders from six global powers including the United States met in Vienna on Saturday in anticipation the long-held economic sanctions against Iran would be lifted.

The meeting was the culmination of months of negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal. Under the deal, the country will dial back its nuclear program and allow the IAEA to monitor the program for years to come, ensuring that Iran does not move towards nuclear weapons production. In exchange, Iran will be have access to $50 billion in long-frozen assets in foreign banks, and the ability to trade oil in the global marketplace. Some sanctions, however, will remain in place. The U.S. Treasury Department has detailed guidance on what the lifting of certain sanctions will mean for international trade.

CNN reported the IAEA is expected to confirm Iran's compliance with the deal Saturday, otherwise known as "implementation day." Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was positive throughout the day.

"I believe it's not just an important day for economic activities in Iran. It is going to open the possibilities in Iran for economic engagement," he told reporters. "What is more important is that it's an extremely important day for diplomacy. Today is the day where we prove to the world that threats, sanctions, intimidation and pressure don't work. Respect works. Through respect, through dialogue, we can reach mutually accepted agreements."

The Washington Post reported a prisoner swap, completed earlier Saturday, was not part of the negotiations. However, the completion of the nuclear deal allowed for the swap to accelerate. Among the U.S. prisoners released is Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who was arrested in Iran in 2014 and convicted of espionage last year. Rezaian holds dual American and Iranian citizenship, and had covered Iran for the Post since 2012.

The Wall Street Journal reported Iran plans to purchase 114 civilian aircraft from Airbus SE now that sanctions have been lifted. Due to sanctions targeting Iran's airlines, maintenance has been sparse for its aging fleet of planes. In recent months, however, the United States has allowed the sale of certain aircraft parts and training manuals.

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