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Iran nuclear deal hits milestone aimed at sanctions relief


WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. expects Iran will take months to live up to its end of a seven-nation nuclear pact that could eventually provide the country relief from international sanctions, Obama administration said.

A milestone in the agreement kicks in Sunday with Iran beginning to make major changes to an underground nuclear facility, a heavy water reactor and a site for enriching uranium. The changes won’t happen immediately, and Iran must further constrain its nuclear program before relief from sanctions will occur.

Senior administration officials said Saturday they understand it’s in Iran’s best interest to work quickly, but they are only concerned that the work is done correctly. They insisted that no sanctions relief will occur until the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s compliance with the terms of the agreement. They said Iran’s work will almost certainly take more than the two months Iran has projected.

The administration officials spoke on a conference call with reporters, but under the condition that they not be identified by name.

As part of the nuclear agreement, President Barack Obama will issue on Sunday provisional sanction waivers and a memorandum instructing U.S. agencies to lay the groundwork for relieving sanctions on Iran.

Iran has taken a series of provocative steps in recent weeks. Fighters from Iran have been working in concert with Russia in Syria, and a Revolutionary Court convicted a Washington Post reporter who has been held more than a year on charges including espionage. The court has not provided details on the verdict or sentence. Also, Iran successfully test-fired a guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile.

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