Sunday 12 January 2014 11:33 pm

Curbs on Iran’s nuclear activity start next week

A DEAL for Iran to freeze parts of its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief will take effect on 20 January, giving world powers and Tehran six months to agree a complete end to a standoff that has raised the risk of a wider Middle East war. US Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned that the next stage in negotiations would be “very difficult” after Iran, Washington and the EU yesterday announced the launch date for the interim deal struck in Geneva in November. Iran will receive some easing of economic sanctions from 20 January, including the suspension of restrictions on Iranian exports of petrochemicals, a senior US official said. The official said such immediate relief – which will hinge on UN inspectors confirming that Iran is curbing enrichment of uranium – would include imports for its auto manufacturing sector and trade in gold and other precious metals. Shortly after the interim accord goes into force, an Iranian official said, the two sides will start negotiating a final settlement of their differences about activity the West suspects is aimed at obtaining a nuclear weapons capability.