Iran Nuke Deal Begins: Tehran Cuts Enrichment
Country poised to relaunch key exports
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 20, 2014 6:54 AM CST
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani waves to participants upon his arrival at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

(Newser) – A preliminary nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is now in effect. "In line with the implementation of the Geneva joint plan of action, Iran suspended the production of 20% enriched uranium in the presence of UN nuclear watchdog inspectors" at two sites, an Iranian atomic energy official told Iranian news, per AFP. UN authorities have confirmed the news, diplomats tell the BBC. The agreement allows the country to continue enriching uranium to 5%.

As for the other side of the deal, "the sanctions iceberg against Iran is melting," says Iran's nuclear head. Assuming the EU is satisfied with the enrichment cuts, Iran should today be allowed to restart petrochemical exports as well as trade in gold, meaning billions of dollars for its economy, the BBC notes. Under the deal, Iran is also required to convert half of its existing 20% enriched uranium to oxide; the other half must be diluted to 5% enrichment, CBS News reports. In exchange for the dilution, Iran will gain access to some of its frozen foreign assets worth as much as $4.2 billion, the New York Times reports.