Iran sees implementation of nuclear deal starting by early January

In anticipation of sanctions relief, Russian oil giant expresses interest in resuming ties, India pushes Iranian port project.

Reza Najafi 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Reza Najafi 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The implementation of a landmark nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers is expected to begin in late December or early January, Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear agency said on Friday.
Under the Nov. 24 interim accord, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
Asked when he expected the six-month agreement to start, Ambassador Reza Najafi told reporters: "We expect that either the end of December or beginning of January we should start implementing the measures agreed by both sides."
The agreement - reached on Sunday after more than four days of negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain and Germany - was designed to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of the decade-old nuclear dispute.
International firms began expressing interest in reestablishing business dealings with Iran with the prospect of sanctions being lifted.
Lukoil, Russia's No. 2 oil producer, is ready to resume cooperation with Iran when international sanctions are lifted, Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov was quoted as saying on Friday.
"After sanctions are lifted - definitely. We are interested in all regions where hydrocarbon reserves lie," he told Interfax news agency in response to a question about lifting sanctions while in the city of Perm. Alekperov did not refer directly to any specific projects.
India is sending a team to Iran to speed up work on a port that will provide access to resource-rich Central Asia and Afghanistan, officials said, moving quickly to take advantage of a thaw in Iran's relations with the West.
The port of Chabahar in southeast Iran is central to India's efforts to circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to landlocked Afghanistan where it has developed close security ties and economic interests.
The port, which India is partly financing, will also be another gateway to Iran itself for Indian commerce.
Meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency told an IAEA board meeting Friday that "the increasing concerns regarding Iran's activities related to nuclear weapons should be thoroughly investigated and clarified".
Israeli Ambassador Merav Zafary-Odiz told the board that Iran, which does not recognize Israel, was selective in its cooperation with an IAEA probe into suspected atomic bomb research by Tehran, which denies the charge.
"Genuine Iranian willingness to provide full access to information, documents, facilities, locations and people to the IAEA will most certainly lead to some very troubling conclusions regarding the military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program," the ambassador said, according to a copy of her speech.
"To the best of our understanding, the senior officials who worked in the Iranian defense ministry in the weapons program until 2003 continue to operate in the defense ministry in an organization called today the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, or SPND," she said.
Iran has repeatedly rejected such accusations, saying it is Israel's assumed atomic arsenal that threatens regional peace.
Najafi told the board Israel had 200 nuclear warheads, adding: "All of them are targeted at Muslim cities." He said the "warmongers in Tel Aviv" previously had secret nuclear cooperation with "another racist regime of apartheid", in a clear reference to formerly minority white-led South Africa.
US Ambassador Joseph Macmanus said Najafi's comment was "inflammatory, irrelevant to the issue ... and wrong".