Jan. 20 - Iran has halted its most sensitive nuclear activity under a ground-breaking deal with world powers, paving the way for the easing of some Western sanctions. Mana Rabiee reports.
Iran is halting its higher-grade uranium enrichment. That was the announcement made Monday by Iran's atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi. He told Iranian state TV the suspension was happening at two plants, Natanz and Fordow. (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) HEAD OF IRAN'S ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANIZATION, DR. ALI AKBAR SALEHI, SAYING: "In the next hour or two, at Natanz, the links between the cascades will be disconnected and the facility will be sealed. After Natanz, they will move onto Fordow where by noon the operations facility at Fordow will be sealed. So I can say that by noon the process of our enrichment of uranium at 20% will stop." A confidential UN atomic agency report reviewed by Reuters on Monday confirmed that Iran has halted its most sensitive nuclear activity. The move comes under a landmark interim deal struck in November between Iran and world powers. It broke a decades-old stalemate over Iran's disputed nuclear program, and it paves the way for a partial easing of Western sanctions against Tehran. Reaction on the streets of the capital was largely optimistic. (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) POLITICAL SCIENCE GRADUATE, BEHZAD GHASSEMI NEZHAD, SAYING: "A new atmosphere might open up so that we can have direct negotiations with America. These animosities are definitely not in the interests of either side." (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) CLOTHES MANUFACTURER AND SALESMAN, MEHDI AMINI, SAYING: "People didn't have the ability to buy items, any items. But I think now the rate of the dollar will drop. Items will get into the country cheaper, and the people's ability to spend will go up too." Iran and world powers have six months now to strike a final accord that defines the scope of Tehran's nuclear activity.