LATEST: European Union Lifts Some Sanctions on Iran


Week Past, Week Ahead: Iran — Tehran Looks for Double Advance on Nuclear & Syria Fronts

A twist on Sunday in the long-running dispute over Iran’s presence at the international conference to resolve Syria’s crisis, as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued a formal invitation to Tehran.

Ban said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had pledged that Tehran would play a “positive and constructive role” in the discussions, scheduled for Wednesday in Switzerland.

In another indication that Iran may play a part in the meeting, Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian met a high-ranking official from France’s Foreign Ministry, which has backed the Syrian opposition and insurgency, on Saturday in Tehran.

The big question appears to be whether Iran will agree before Wednesday to a June 2012 plan for a political transition in which President Assad would leave power.

Ban said Zarif had accepted “full implementation” of the June 2012 accord for a transitional governing authority without Assad. The US, which has vetoed Iran’s participation up to now, indicated on Sunday that this could change if Tehran had agreed to the condition.

European Union Lifts Some Sanctions on Iran

The European Union’s Catherine Ashton announced on Monday:

Following up to the joint plan of action agreed between the E3/EU+3 and Iran in November in Geneva, we have today decided to begin the implementation of a six-month phase of initial confidence-building measures aimed at addressing international concerns about Iran’s nuclear activities.

Today, Iran has implemented the nuclear-related measures agreed in the joint plan of action, and foreign ministers of the EU adopted the necessary legislation to suspend the EU measures set out in the joint plan of action for a period of six months. The suspension of these sanctions will enter into force today….

This is an important first step, but more work will be needed to fully address the international community’s concerns regarding the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme. We aim to start negotiations about a comprehensive solution with Iran in February.

Tehran: We Have Begun Suspension of Enrichment of 20% Uranium

Iran has announced that, on Monday’s start of the implementation of the interim nuclear deal, it has suspended enrichment of 20% uranium.

A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran issued the statement as officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency continued a visit to observe Iran’s enrichment process. State TV said IAEA inspectors had begun disconnecting some centrifuges at the Natanz enrichment plant.

A confidential IAEA report confirmed that Iran had begun diluting its stockpile of 20% uranium, reducing it to 5%.

Iranian state television reported Monday that UN nuclear inspectors have begun disconnecting some centrifuges used for enriching uranium at Iran’s Natanz plant.

The head of the AEOI, Ali Akbar Salehi, has hailed the start of implementation of November’s agreement as a sign that “sanctions iceberg is melting“.