“Implementation day, which is the day on which Iran proves that it has sufficiently downsized its nuclear program and can begin to receive sanctions relief, is going to take place very soon, likely within the next coming days somewhere,” Kerry said in a foreign policy speech at the National Defense University.
Kerry said that the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal, which he described as a blueprint for blocking all of Iran’s potential pathways to a nuclear weapon, will be one of the U.S. foreign policy priorities in the coming year.
“As agreed, Iran is now well on its way to dismantling… critical elements of its nuclear facilities,” Kerry said.
The top U.S. diplomat revealed that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reported to him on Tuesday that the calandria, or core, of the Arak nuclear reactor was taken out, and in the next hours it would be filled with concrete and then destroyed.
All of the enriched material has been put on a ship and taken out to Russia for processing, Kerry said.
One shipment of such material in one day could take two or three months for Iran to acquire enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear weapon, he noted.
“And it is an important part of the technical equation that will bring the breakout time to at least one year for the next ten years,” he said.
Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency will build up its capacity to inspect, which Iran is subject to during the lifetime of the deal whenever there is a suspicion of any activity that violates the deal, Kerry said.
“I can assure you, we will continue to monitor implementation of this agreement closely, because yes, existential challenges are at stake here,” he added.
Kerry once again expressed gratitude to Iranian authorities for swiftly releasing 10 U.S. Navy sailor detained in the Gulf Tuesday after reportedly drifting into Iranian waters.
“I also want to thank the Iranian authorities for their cooperation and quick response… And I’m appreciative for the quick and appropriate response of the Iranian authorities,” he said.
Kerry said all indications suggested that the sailors were well taken care of, provided with blankets and food and assisted with their return to the fleet earlier Wednesday.
The incident occurred at a time when the U.S. is prepared to lift some of the sanctions on Iran as part of the implementation of the historic deal reached last July on the controversial Iranian nuclear program after prolonged diplomatic negotiations.
But new tensions flared up recently after the U.S. slammed what they called Iran’s “highly provocative” actions of firing unguided rockets last month near U.S. Navy ships in the Gulf including the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier.