Iran started Monday to implement a nuclear deal reached with six world powers in Geneva late last year by halting its 20 percent uranium enrichment, a sensitive part of its controversial nuclear program.


Iran suspended the activities at Natanz and Fordow nuclear enrichment sites in the presence of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, an Iranian atomic official was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency.

Mohammad Amiri, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) official responsible for the agreement, said: "Iran also started a dilution and oxidation process of its 196 km of 20 percent enriched uranium stockpile."

He said half of the 20 percent stockpile will be oxidized over a period of six months, and the other half will be diluted to 5 percent enriched uranium within three months.

Earlier Monday, head of the AEOI Ali-Akbar Salehi said Iran and the P5+1 group -- the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia plus Germany -- are "on the way to solve the crisis fabricated over the country's peaceful nuclear program."

"The implementation of the Geneva deal requires introductory steps and the measures by both sides will take time," he cautioned.

According to the agreement Iran should freeze part of its nuclear activities on Jan. 20 for six months in return for limited lift of the sanctions imposed on its economy.

Salehi said, based on the agreement, Iran was supposed not to feed heavy water to Arak nuclear reactor, as confirmed by the IAEA inspectors after their visit to the storehouses in the site Monday.

"Today, the IAEA inspectors also visited (relevant establishments) in Isfahan to carry out some measures to stop the production of fuel for Arak," heavy water reactor, he added.

Salehi said some 80 percent to 85 percent of the Arak reactor has been completed and the establishment needs two or three more years to become operational.

The West claims that Arak reactor can produce plutonium which can be used for making atomic bombs, Salehi said: "The claims are not true because their cameras are monitoring the activities."

The IAEA will hold a board meeting on Jan. 24 to discuss fund and other issues regarding the future inspection in Iran.

Under Geneva deal, Iran is committed to halting enrichment above 5 percent and neutralizing its stockpile of near-20 percent uranium in six months; furthermore, Iran pledges to make no further advances at its nuclear facilities and allow inspectors daily access to its enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.

In return, the Western countries will ease their sanctions imposed on Iran.

On Monday, the EU decided to suspend part of its restrictive measures against Iran for six months as a part of the implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed by Iran and the P5+1.

The EU lifted the prohibition on the provision of insurance and transport in relation to Iran's crude oil sales.

In addition, the prohibition on the import, purchase or transport of Iran's petrochemical products and related services was suspended.

According to the EU decision, to enable the transport of Iran's crude oil and petrochemical products, the prohibition on the provision of vessels was also suspended.

The ban on trade in gold and precious metals with the Iranian government, its public bodies and the Central Bank of Iran has also been suspended.

"As foreseen by the Joint Plan of Action, the thresholds for authorizing financial transfers to and from Iran have been increased tenfold in order to ease legitimate trade with Iran," said the EU.    

Source: Xinhuanet