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Zarif upbeat on eve of Iran nuclear deal implementation

20 January, 2014

TEHRAN: Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday he was hopeful the implementation of a landmark deal with world powers would lead to a lasting agreement over Iran's nuclear drive.

The deal clinched in Geneva in November and finalised last week is to go into effect on Monday and puts temporary curbs on Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for modest sanctions relief.

"I hope the implementation of the first phase of the Geneva (Joint) Plan of Action — that will begin tomorrow — will bring positive results for the country, as well as regional and global peace and security," Zarif said in remarks posted on his Facebook page.

"And that it will pave the ground for substantial negotiations for the final solution," he said about talks with the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany which are known as the P5+1.

Clinched after years of tough negotiations, the accord will last for six months and gives Iran access to nearly $4.2 billion of frozen assets in return for Tehran limiting its enrichment of uranium to five percent.

Iran must also begin to neutralise its stockpile of uranium purified to 20 percent, a few technical steps short of weapons-grade.

Both measures are to be monitored and verified by the inspectors from the UN atomic agency IAEA, who are presently in Iran.

The deal is also expected to open a diplomatic window for intensive negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 to find a lasting solution to Iran's nuclear drive.

Western governments suspect Iran's civil nuclear programme masks a drive for a weapons capability, something Tehran strongly denies.

President Hassan Rouhani has said that clinching a comprehensive agreement would be a "very difficult task", as key issues are yet to be broached while there is mounting criticism of the interim deal in the US Congress and among Iranian hardliners.

The government has hailed the interim deal as a breakthrough that brings down "one or two pillars" of a harsh, internationally-imposed sanctions regime badly hurting its economy.

End.

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