Obama touts beginning of Iran nuclear deal

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President Obama on Sunday touted the beginning of the nuclear deal with Iran, which took effect this weekend over the objection of most Republicans in Congress.

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"Today marks an important milestone toward preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and ensuring its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful going forward," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

"Today, Iran begins to take the steps necessary to implement its JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] commitments, including removing thousands of centrifuges and associated infrastructure, reducing its enriched uranium stockpile from approximately 12,000 kilograms to 300 kilograms, and removing the core of the Arak heavy-water reactor and filling it with concrete so that it cannot be used again, among other steps," Obama continued.

"These next steps will allow us to reach the objectives we set out to achieve over the course of nearly two years of tough, principled diplomacy and will result in cutting off all four pathways Iran could use to develop enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon," he said. "I am confident in the extraordinary benefits to our national security and the peace and security of the world that come with the successful implementation of the JCPOA.”

The implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran is seen as a big win for Obama, who staked much of his remaining political capital on getting the pact through a divided Congress.

Obama and other supporters of the Iran agreement have said that it is the best deal that could be reached to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon with the next decade.

Opponents, however, have criticized inspection requirements for Iranian nuclear sites and said the deal rewards Tehran for bad behavior by easing U.S. sanctions on the country.

In the coming months, the onus will be on Iran to fulfill its end of the nuclear bargain. The country has agreed to shut off thousands of centrifuges, drastically reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and remove the core out of the Arak heavy water reactor and fill it with concrete.

The U.S. and Europe, meanwhile, will begin issuing draft regulations and sanctions waivers. Those waivers won’t go into full effect for months, until the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declares that Iran has met its initial obligations.

Obama said the White House "will be closely monitoring Iran’s adherence to its commitments, working closely with the IAEA and the other JCPOA participants, to ensure Iran fully fulfills each and every one of its commitments."

-Julian Hattem contributed to this report.