“Removed the core of its plutonium reactor and filled it with concrete”

Iran removed the core of its plutonium reactor and filled it with concrete Monday, paving the way for economic and financial sanctions to be lifted soon. The work that effectively rendered the reactor at Arak harmless was the last major hurdle for Iran to fulfill its commitments under a landmark deal reached just shy of six months ago in Vienna. The International Atomic Energy Agency must verify that everything was done satisfactorily before U.S. and international sanctions can be lifted. But that is expected to take days, not weeks. “In a few days, we will see the end of the cruel sanctions against Iran,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech in southern Iran. “When sanctions end, I will explain to people how great of an accomplishment this is.” The lifting of sanctions will unlock Iran’s access to about $100 billion in its own assets that has been frozen in foreign banks. The United States and the United Nations have prepared the legal steps necessary for sanctions relief to take effect. That should give Rouhani a significant political boost before parliamentary elections in late February. He won election in 2013 promising to end sanctions that have undercut the economy. He returned to that theme in his speech Monday, when he predicted the upcoming new year, which is marked in Iran in March, would be a one of “economic revival” despite oil prices slumping to an 11-year low”.

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