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Don`t pin hope on sanctions relief: Iran leader

PTI | Last Updated: Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 19:54

Tehran: Iran`s Supreme Leader urged officials on Saturday not to pin hopes for economic recovery on the sanctions relief from a landmark deal reached with world powers on Tehran`s nuclear program.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also called on critics of the interim nuclear deal achieved on November 24 in Geneva to be fair and give time to President Hassan Rouhani to pursue his policy of engagement with the outside world.

"The only solution to the country`s economic problems is to employ (Iran`s) infinite domestic capacities, not to pin hopes on the lifting of sanctions. No expectations from the enemy," Khamenei told army officers in Tehran.

Khamenei has given his blessing to Rouhani`s outreach policies. But he also has held to the line that the United States is fundamentally Iran`s adversary.

The deal is the centrepiece of Rouhani`s policy. Iran on Jan 20 stopped enriching uranium to 20 per cent and started neutralising its existing stockpile of that grade, just steps away from weapons material, in order to fulfil commitments reached under the interim deal.

The US and the European Union also lifted some sanctions, blamed for a sharp devaluation of the Iranian rial over the last two years, in response to the Iranian moves. The currency has recovered somewhat since Rouhani took office last summer.

Under the historic deal, Iran agreed to halt its 20 per cent enrichment program, but will continue enrichment up to 5 per cent. It also will convert half of its stockpile of 20 per cent enriched uranium to oxide, and dilute the remaining half to 5 per cent.

In return, the US and the EU simultaneously announced the lifting of sanctions on petrochemical products, insurance, gold and other precious metals, auto industry, passenger plane parts and services.

They also plan to release USD 4.2 billion Iranian assets of oil revenues blocked overseas, in eight instalments over a period of six months. The first instalment of USD 550 million was provided to Iran on Feb 1, according to Iranian officials.

The interim Geneva accord will last for six months as Iran and the six-nation group, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, negotiate a final deal. Those talks are to start Feb 18 in Vienna.

Rouhani and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, have a tough task selling the accord to sceptics. Iran`s hard-liners call the deal a "poisoned chalice," saying Rouhani made too many concessions in return for too little.

Prominent hard-liner Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi earlier this week accused the president of selling Iran`s "dignity" under the Geneva deal.

But Khamenei defended Rouhani and urged critics to be patient and fair.

First Published: Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 19:54

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