Obama Admin. Prepares to Implement Accord

Obama Admin. Prepares to Implement Accord Obama Admin. Prepares to Implement Accord

With the US Congress now appearing unlikely to block the Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration is turning its focus to implementation, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Monday.  

In a news conference in Vienna on the sidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual conference, Moniz said it remains unclear how long it will take to implement the nuclear agreement between Iran and major powers and lift sanctions on Tehran, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Under the terms of July's agreement, the nuclear deal will be formally adopted in mid-October. However, before the plan is implemented, Iran has to take a series of steps to scale back its nuclear infrastructure and program while the six powers (the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) prepare the lifting of sanctions and take other steps to assist Iran.

"They've a big job ahead of them," Moniz said of Iran. "Many have estimated the order of six months. They are clearly going to try to make it shorter than that because obviously they have every advantage in terms of economic relief to make it earlier.

"It's going to depend upon the scale of their trained manpower and the ability to do an awful lot of jobs in parallel. So we don't know."

Among the tasks Iran has agreed to complete before it receives sanctions relief is reducing its stockpile of fissile material by some 98%, removing more than 10,000 centrifuges from its nuclear facilities and taking out the core of the Arak reactor.

The six powers have to prepare sanctions relief and are also supposed to set up working groups to help advise Iran on issues such as the reconfiguration of Arak.

The IAEA is tasked with overseeing the process and verifying Iran has met its commitments before a wide range of economic and financial sanctions are lifted.

A number of western officials have said they would expect the agreement to be implemented in early 2016.

During his visit to Vienna on Monday, Moniz met Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's atomic agency, as well as other colleagues from the group of six powers that negotiated the July 14 nuclear deal.

Moniz said discussions focused on issues around implementation of the agreement. Moniz and Salehi played key roles during the nuclear talks, holding weeks of one-on-one discussions that helped narrow differences on technical issues.

Last week, US President Barack Obama won the biggest foreign-policy fight of his second term when supporters of the nuclear agreement in Congress thwarted a Republican effort to sink the accord.