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Iran hopes for better economy as nuke deal starts

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A worker rides a bicycle in front of the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran.

ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

TEHRAN — Iranian officials said they expect positive economic changes with the lifting of some sanctions against the country as part of a deal struck with world powers.

The interim agreement begins today. Signed in November in Geneva and completed last week, the deal will temporarily freeze much of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited relief from Western economic sanctions.

The deal will last for six months, giving Iran and the six other countries involved — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States — time to negotiate a permanent deal.

Nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ watchdog group, arrived in Tehran over the weekend. They will monitor the Iranian elements of the agreement.

Iranian leaders, including some hard-liners, have welcomed the deal. It allows the nation to freely export petrochemical products, have sanctions lifted on gold and precious metals, and create a special banking channel to facilitate payments for goods like food and medicine. These products were not affected by sanctions in the past, but they could not be paid for because of restrictions on all international financial transactions with Iran.

If Iran starts to dilute its parts of its stockpile of uranium that has been enriched up to 20 percent — close to weapons-grade level — it will be rewarded by the release of some of its funds that have been frozen abroad, up to $4.2 billion.

Critics in Congress and elsewhere say the limited sanction relief offered to Iran will undermine the measures’ intended effect.

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