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Iran can sell oil again after giving up its nuclear weapons programme

“The world is safer,” said John Kerry.

An Iranian woman walks past a mural depicting Iranian armed forces in the battlefield, at Palestine Square.
An Iranian woman walks past a mural depicting Iranian armed forces in the battlefield, at Palestine Square.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

IRAN HAS “OPENED a new chapter” in its ties with the world, President Hassan Rouhani said today, hours after sanctions were lifted under its historic nuclear deal with global powers.

The UN’s atomic watchdog late on Saturday confirmed that Iran had complied with its obligations under last summer’s accord and the United States and European Union announced they were lifting the sanctions that have for years crippled the country’s economy.

Western governments hailed the announcement as a milestone though some critics, including Israel, alleged that Tehran was still seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.

The announcement followed news of a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States that will include the release of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, in another sign of thawing relations between the longtime foes.

Rouhani, a moderate whose 2013 election victory helped launch a huge diplomatic effort toward the deal struck on July 14 in Vienna, said implementation of the agreement did not harm any country.

“We Iranians have reached out to the world… have opened a new chapter in the relations of Iran with the world,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as saying.

Iran is “not a threat to any government or nation”. The agreement, he said, “is not a loss for any country”.

Rouhani, who has promised that 2016 will be a “year of prosperity” for Iranians, was to give a press conference later Sunday after presenting this year’s budget.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, representing the six world powers, announced the lifting of “multilateral and national” sanctions in Vienna, saying the deal showed that intense diplomacy could resolve even “the most difficult issues”.

The United States lifted a raft of sanctions, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying in Vienna: “The United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world are safer because the threat of the nuclear weapon has been reduced.”

The lifting of the sanctions will allow Iran to resume widespread oil exports, long the lifeblood of its economy though Rouhani has steadily moved away from relying on crude to fund budgets.

© – AFP 2016

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