VIENNA/WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — The European Union (EU) and the United States have announced their decision to lift nuclear-related sanctions on Iran after the UN nuclear watchdog confirmed Tehran’s commitments to the July deal.
“Today, I released a report confirming that Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said in a statement on Saturday.
Iran also promises more transparency of its nuclear program, letting the UN nuclear inspectors be able to monitor Tehran’s atomic plan.
The EU lifted its economic sanctions against Iran after the UN nuclear watchdog’s announcement.
“As Iran has fulfilled its commitments, today, multilateral and national economic and financial sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are lifted,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Mogherini Saturday jointly announced the implementation day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the historic nuclear deal reached last July.
Mogherini said the implementation day marked the key fact that diplomacy could resolve tough issue.
Shortly after the IAEA announcement, U.S. President Barack Obama also signed an executive order to lift sanctions on Iran related to its nuclear program, said the White House.
“Iran’s implementation of the nuclear-related measures …, as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, marks a fundamental shift in circumstances with respect to Iran’s nuclear program,” Obama said in the executive order.
Obama’s announcement came just hours after Iran said it had released four Americans, including a Washington Post reporter, Jason Rezaian, as part of a prisoner swap with the United States.
Iran’s prosecutor-general announced that “in line with the order of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and the interests of the country, Iran has released four Iranian dual-national prisoners as a part of prisoners swap.”
When talking to IRINN on Saturday, an informed source identified the released inmates as the Iranian-Americans: Saeed Abedini, Amir Mirzaee Hekmati, Nosratollah Khosravi and Jason Rezaian.
U.S. media reported that Washington will either pardon or drop charges against seven Iranians in exchange for the prisoner swap.
The seven Iranians — six of whom are dual citizens — were either accused or convicted of violating U.S. sanctions.
Three of the Iranians were serving prison terms and now have received a commutation or pardon, and three others were awaiting trial. The last one made a plea agreement.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the prisoner swap between the United States and Iran, said Ban’s spokesman.
The UN chief was also “heartened by the lifting of sanctions on Iran,” said the spokesman.
Ban also expressed the hope that the parties move on to fully implement the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in good faith and to increase cooperation on other pressing international and regional matters.