REUTERS - Iran's nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said on Monday he expected a deal with six world powers on shrinking Tehran's atomic program in exchange for sanctions relief to be implemented by year-end.
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"Hopefully before the end of this year certainly we would have the implementation day," Araqchi told reporters after meeting senior officials from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France in Vienna.
The United States and the European Union took formal legal steps on Sunday that will lift sanctions once Iran meets certain conditions such as reducing dramatically the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
Germany's foreign minister said the EU sanctions were likely to remain in place at least until January.
When asked whether Iran had started mothballing centrifuges, Araqchi said the process had not begun yet.
"We need an order by the president to the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation to start the job. That would be done after some preparations that we still need to do in the coming days. So it would soon start," Araqchi said.
Sunday's moves have no immediate effect but cement a process that began with the deal reached in July to end sanctions against Iran once it shrinks its nuclear program that the West suspected was aimed at developing a nuclear bomb. Iran denies this charge.