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Iran Nuclear Deal Set to Kick in Jan. 20

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After months of wrangling, the deal between Iran and the P5+1 nations meant to stop growth of Iran's nuclear program will finally kick in on Jan. 20, Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Sunday.

Some of the sanctions against Tehran will be loosened, and in exchange Iran will cease nuclear operations for six months, according to a deal announced in November.

Kerry said in a statement on Sunday that the agreement requires Iran to avoid installing or starting up additional centrifuges or next-generation centrifuges, and submitting to additional inspections of their nuclear sites. The steps outlined in the deal will "advance our goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," President Obama said.

Senior U.S. officials said that Iran has agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors daily access at two of its major power plants, and the technical talks focused on what IAEA inspectors will be looking for when they visit and what information Iran will supply them.

On Jan. 20, Iran will no longer enrich Uranium to 20 percent and will dilute its entire stockpile over the course of the six-month deal and IAEA monitors will have access to Iran’s centrifuges and the workshops where they’re made, a senior U.S. official told reporters Sunday on a conference call.

The IAEA will report at the beginning of Jan. 20 that Iran has not met its international nuclear obligations, and after that, the IAEA will report monthly on Iran’s progress toward compliance with the terms of the interim deal.

In exchange, Iran will get about $7 billion over the course of the deal.

"With today's agreement, we have made concrete progress," Obama said.

Finalized on Nov. 24 in Geneva, the deal has yet to be implemented, as U.S. and Iranian technical experts have met in Vienna to hash out the specifics of what Iran is required to do. Those talks broke off in mid-December, after the State Dept. and Treasury announced a handful of new sanctions designations against companies and people deemed to be involved in Iran’s oil business.

Asked what the sticking points have been, the State Dept. has repeatedly declined to comment.

On Thursday, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman met in Geneva with two counterparts from the EU and Iran, apparently laying groundwork for the deal to be finalized.

Congress is still considering sanctions legislation that President Obama has threatened to veto. This week, its number of Senate cosponsors surpassed 50.

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