Iran said to be ‘7 days’ from seeing benefits of nuclear deal

Iran said to be ‘7 days’ from seeing benefits of nuclear deal
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Iran has reportedly removed the core of its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor and filled it with cement in one of the final steps before countries around the globe lift sanctions on the isolated nation.

The act brings Iran just days away from receiving certification that it has met its obligations under the sweeping nuclear deal reached last year, opening the door to billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

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"The operation was accomplished today and the core has been filled with cement,” an anonymous informed source told Iran’s Fars News Agency on Monday.

Implementation of the agreement “will finish in the next seven days," a spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency told the Etamad newspaper, according to the BBC

The United States and countries around the globe have taken steps to prepare for the deal to be implemented as Iran has raced to finalize its obligations under the deal in recent weeks.

The pace of Iran’s progress is quicker than many analysts expected, and comes as a sign that the nation is eager to see the sanctions on its oil and financial sectors lifted.

Among other steps, Iran was required by the deal to remove and fill the core of its Arak reactor — which produces plutonium that can be used as fuel for a nuclear weapon — with concrete. Tehran was also tasked with dismantling thousands of centrifuges and shipping overseas its stockpile of enriched uranium, much of which it has reportedly accomplished.

“Iran has shipped overseas most of its stockpile of enriched uranium, and with that … Iran literally shipped out its capacity currently to build a nuclear weapon,” Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBringing the American election experience to Democratic Republic of the Congo Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE declared last week.

The steps need to be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency before sanctions will be lifted.

Any effort to finalize the lifting of U.S. and global sanctions will be met with heavy opposition on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers in both parties — but especially Republicans — have accused the U.S. of empowering Iran with a shoddy deal that will only ensure its path to an atomic bomb.

Last week, Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) introduced a new bill to delay the lifting of sanctions by requiring the Obama administration to first conduct a thorough review of Iran’s past nuclear weapons work. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in December.