Iran to destroy stocks of enriched uranium

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 17, 2014

Iran is scheduled to begin neutralising its enriched uranium next week following an agreement achieved last Sunday on the implementation of the Geneva agreement signed in November.

In return, Iran will receive the first tranche of its frozen assets. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet it was a “historic mistake” and that his country reserved the right to defend itself against Iran.

He said: “Today the world became a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world made a significant step towards obtaining the most dangerous weapons in the world,” he said.

The P5+1 group of world powers signed the Geneva Agreement after multiple rounds of talks that took place over years. However, it took another three rounds of “expert-level” talks to agree on the implementation of the interim agreement.

In addition to disagreement over the stages at which Iran would neutralise its uranium, there were also problems over the restrictions on work at the Arak heavy-water reactor and the degree of sanctions relief. The Iranians also announced that they would continue to develop advanced centrifuges for purifying uranium.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said that Iran would receive $4.2 billion (£2.5 billion) in frozen oil revenue out of a total of $7 billion (£4.2 billion). From the start of the implementation of the deal on January 20, there would be a six-month schedule for negotiations between Iran and the world powers over a comprehensive agreement on its nuclear programme.

Meanwhile, the political struggle in Tehran continued. The hardliners within the Iranian regime, especially members of parliament identified with the Revolutionary Guards, have called for greater supervision of the negotiating team.

But President Hassan Rouhani responded by saying he did not fear them and that they represented “few” Iranians. Mr Rouhani added that the Geneva Agreement “required brave decision-making… We should not and do not fear the fuss made by the few people or a small percentage.”

Last updated: 9:45pm, January 17 2014