UK & World News

  • 20 January 2014, 10:03

Iran Nuclear Centrifuges Halted After Deal

Iran has stopped its most sensitive uranium enrichment work as it began implementing a deal to curb its nuclear programme.

Centrifuge cascades - interlinked networks of machines that refine uranium - were disconnected at the Natanz nuclear plant,  the broadcast said.

Equipment at the plant is capable of 20% uranium enrichment, close to the level needed to make a nuclear bomb.

UN inspectors were reportedly present as Tehran started fulfilling its obligations under the agreement reached with six world powers in Geneva last November.

They then moved on to monitor the suspension of enrichment at Fordo, another nuclear site in central Iran.

The UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed the shut down in a report obtained by Reuters.

The official IRNA news agency said Iran had also started to convert part of its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium to oxide to produce nuclear fuel.

The Geneva deal will see Iran get limited sanctions relief in return for scaling back its nuclear ambitions.

The deal between Iran and the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia was agreed after four days of talks and is intended to resolve a decade old stand-off between Tehran and the West.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the agreement recognised the country's "rights" to have a nuclear programme and vowed it would "never" try to develop atomic weapons.

However, hardliners have criticsed the deal with the Vatan-e-Emrooz newspaper was printed in black on Monday in protest, declaring the agreement a "nuclear holocaust" and called it a gift to Israel's Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

US President Barack Obama has said that the deal will be reviewed after six months, with the possibility of sanctions relief being cut off it Iran is judged to have fallen short of its obligations.

Israel has criticised the agreement, with Mr Netanyahu claiming it made the world "a much more dangerous place".

Enriched uranium can be used for both military and civilian purposes and Iran has repeatedly stated it wants the technology to generate electricity rather than develop nuclear weapons.