News / Middle East

EU Eases Some Sanctions Against Iran

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (l) speaks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski during an EU foreign ministers meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Jan. 20, 2014.
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton (l) speaks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski during an EU foreign ministers meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels, Jan. 20, 2014.
Lisa BryantVOA News
The United States and other world powers are easing economic sanctions against Iran after international inspectors confirmed that Tehran has started to curb its most sensitive nuclear enrichment activity.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that Iran had disabled centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities that were used to enrich uranium to 20 percent. The cutback was part of a landmark November agreement Tehran reached with the world powers who are seeking to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The White House said it was "the first time in nearly a decade" that Tehran "has verifiably enacted measures" to trim its nuclear capability. It called the Iranian actions "an important step forward."

The European Union joined the United States in starting to ease some economic sanctions against Iran, at the start of a interim agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program.  

Speaking to reporters Monday in Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the coming months will be crucial in reaching a comprehensive agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.  But she hailed the interim deal that went into effect Monday, in which Iran scales back its most worrying nuclear activities over a six-month period.

"It is an important first step, but more work will be needed in order to fully address the international community's concerns regarding the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program," said Ashton.

Ashton says talks begin next month on reaching a final deal between Iran and world powers: the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union.  The international community is worried Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.  Tehran says its nuclear activities are for purely peaceful purposes.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that under the interim deal, Iran had disabled centrifuges at two nuclear facilities that enrich uranium.

In response, the European Union will begin lifting restrictions in areas like Iran's petrochemicals industry, on metals trading and on money transfers linked to trade and remittance payments.  The United States is also easing economic sanctions.  The White House said Iran's actions amounted to an 'important step forward."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also hailed Tehran's response a "welcome and important step."

"It is important that other sanctions are maintained and the pressure is maintained for a comprehensive and final settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue," said Hague.

The easing of restrictions is good news for Tehran's economy, which has been battered by international sanctions.  The measures take effect immediately.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid