Today, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran had fully implemented its required commitments of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- a plan intended to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful moving forward. During remarks in Vienna, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the historic nature of reaching "Implementation Day" and lifting multilateral and national economic and financial sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program.
Secretary Kerry opened by acknowledging the vital role diplomacy played in the negotiations that led to this "critical and auspicious milestone." Describing the road to Implementation Day, Secretary Kerry said, "More than four years after I first traveled to Oman at the request of President Obama to discreetly explore whether the kind of nuclear talks that we ultimately entered into with Iran were even possible, after more than two and a half years of intense multilateral negotiations, the International Atomic Energy Agency has now verified that Iran has honored its commitments to alter -- and in fact, dismantle -- much of its nuclear program in compliance with the agreement that we reached last July."
Secretary Kerry continued, "Iran has undertaken significant steps that many -- and I do mean many -- people doubted would ever come to pass. And that should be recognized, even though the full measure of this achievement can only be realized by assuring continued full compliance in the coming years. In return for the steps that Iran has taken, the United States and the EU will immediately lift nuclear-related sanctions, expanding the horizon of opportunity for the Iranian people. And I have even tonight, before coming over here, signed a number of documents over those sanctions that the State Department has jurisdiction over in order to effect that lifting."
"Today marks the moment that the Iran nuclear agreement transitions from an ambitious set of promises on paper to measurable action in progress. Today, as a result of the actions taken since last July, the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world are safer because the threat of a nuclear weapon has been reduced. Today we can confidently say that each of the pathways that Iran had toward enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon has been verifiably closed down," said Secretary Kerry.
During his statement Secretary Kerry outlined several steps Iran has taken to fully implement the nuclear agreement, which "have fundamentally altered the country’s nuclear program." First, Iran has reduced it's stockpile of enriched uranium to less than 300 kilograms, sending the rest of it out on a ship which has gone to Russia to be processed. Second, Iran has also removed a full two thirds of its centrifuges, including most advanced centrifuges, from nuclear facilities along with the infrastructure that supported them. Third, Iran has now begun modifying its heavy water reactor at Arak -- which had the potential if it became operational to produce enough weapons-grade plutonium annually to fuel two nuclear weapons-- so that it will now only be used for peaceful purposes.
Secretary Kerry also emphasized how verification was critical to reaching this point in the process and would continue to be at the forefront in the years ahead. He noted that the IAEA has put in place the extensive transparency and verification measures required by the JCPOA, including the 24/7 monitoring of all of Iran’s declared facilities, giving IAEA visibility and accountability of the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program. This level of accountability lessens the possibility of Iran breaking out of the agreement with a covert facility or cover supply chain without early detection.
While acknowledging the concerns that the international community has “rightly expressed about Iran’s policies and actions and choices in the region," Secretary Kerry reiterated the importance of the agreement in ensuring the international community can "finally work to address the other regional challenges without the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran."
Secretary Kerry concluded by recognizing while more work remains regarding implementation, that he was optimistic about the implications of the successful negotiations. Secretary Kerry said, "The hard work will continue, no question. And the tough politics surrounding this issue in many countries, including the United States and Iran – that’s obviously not going to get easier overnight. But the fact is that today marks the first day of a safer world, one where we believe it is possible to remain safer for years to come, and particularly with the compliance of this agreement."
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