A landmark deal curbing Iran’s nuclear programme in return for a loosening of sanctions appears to be underway, an agreement intended to buy time for a permanent settlement of a decade-old standoff.
Under the deal, Iran must suspend enrichment of uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent. An Iranian official has just said Tehran will start its suspension of uranium enrichment up to 20 percent in a few hours.
EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels and are expected to suspend some sanctions against Iran in line with the Nov. 24 interim agreement if as expected, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog confirms Tehran is meeting its end of the bargain.
Given the green light, Tehran will be able to retrieve $4.2 billion in oil revenues frozen in overseas accounts, and resume trade in petrochemicals, gold and other precious metals. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will court global business in Davos later in the week.
If things go according to plan, the potential of a market of 76 million people in a country with some of the world’s biggest oil and gas reserves will be hard for foreign business to ignore. Iranian trade officials say delegations from Turkey, Georgia, Ireland, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, China, Italy, India, Austria and Sweden have visited Iran since early December.