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Iran's Rouhani warns of domestic opposition to nuclear deal
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Jan 16, 2014

EU ready to resume business with Iran on Jan 20: sources
Brussels (AFP) Jan 16, 2014 - The European Union will begin lifting sanctions against Iran on Monday, January 20, the minute it receives word that Tehran has begun implementing a deal to curb its nuclear programme.

EU foreign ministers will announce the move in Brussels as soon as inspectors from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, confirm that Iran has started work on a set of measures to reassure the international community over its nuclear drive, EU sources said Thursday.

The IAEA greenlight is expected in the morning and "a decision and regulation (on lifting the sanctions) will be published the same day."

Under a hard-won deal agreed between Iran and world powers in November, Tehran over the next six months will halt enrichment of uranium over five percent and dilute half of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium in exchange for sanctions relief.

The agreement will see the United States unfreeze billions in Iranian assets while the EU notably suspends a 2012 ban on insuring and transporting Iranian crude oil that caused a more than 50 percent drop in Tehran's oil exports.

European insurers up until then had accounted for 90 percent of coverage for deliveries of Iranian oil anywhere in the world.

The EU also will suspend bans on trade in gold, precious metals and petrochemical products while increasing a ceiling on financial transfers not related to remaining sanctions.

Like the United States, the EU has promised to impose no new sanctions in the next six months, seen as the first stage in efforts to find a lasting solution over fears that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb.

An EU source therefore stressed that any new contracts struck with Iranian firms should not go beyond the six-month period. "Contracts should be executed during this period," added the source, who asked not to be identified.

"We want this to work," the source said.

If all goes to plan, EU firms from Monday will be able to insure or transport Iranian crude oil to its six customers, China, India, Japan, Korea, Turkey and Taiwan.

But the powers that negotiated the deal -- the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany -- have maintained many of the sanctions that have hobbled the Iranian economy.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Thursday that he was facing domestic opposition to a landmark nuclear deal with major powers that is to go into effect next week.

Rouhani, whose June election has led to a quickening rapprochement with the West after years of hostility, said there was organised opposition in Iran to his efforts to allay Western concerns about its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions.

"A group does not wish to see the sanctions lifted," the president said in remarks reported by the Tasnim news agency.

"This group -- for their individual and party interests -- is against the normalisation of relations with the world."

During a visit to the UN General Assembly in New York in September, Rouhani held a historic telephone call with US President Barack Obama ending decades of estrangement between the two governments.

On his return, he was greeted by cheering supporters of his efforts to end US and EU sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy but he was also met with shoe-throwing by hardline protesters.

Rouhani already went on the defensive Wednesday in the runup to next week's start of implementation of the November deal under which Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment of uranium to levels that have worried the West and address concerns about its existing stockpiles.

On Thursday, speaking on a tour of southwestern Khuzestan province, a key oil producing region on the border with Iraq which has a large ethnic Arab community, Rouhani said his opening to the West was a vital national interest but that it would take time.

"We want to cut the sanction ropes that have entangled our movement... It will not happen overnight," he said.

"This must be achieved step by step and is a very difficult task."

Rouhani acknowledged that the interim deal he struck with the P5+1 group of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany would not spell an immediate end to sanctions while negotiations on a comprehensive deal continue over the next six months.

"It is correct that the structure of sanctions remains in place.. but we have taken down one or two of its pillars," he said.


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US warns firms against breaking Iran sanctions
Rome (AFP) Jan 15, 2014
Iran is still a "perilous" place for foreign companies to do business because of sanctions unaffected by the recent interim nuclear deal, a senior US administration official said on Wednesday during a visit to Rome. The six-month agreement only provides for the easing of limited sanctions and the unblocking of some frozen Iranian assets abroad and foreign firms should not "over-interpret" it ... read more

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