Iran and world powers have agreed to start implementing their interim nuclear deal on January 20.
On January 12, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi announced the agreement following talks between European Union and Iranian officials in Geneva on January 9 and 10.
"The agreement between us and the 5+1 countries regarding the method of implementation of the first step of the joint action plan -- also known as the Geneva agreement -- was finalized," Araghchi said on Iranian state television.
"The two sides reached a single understanding of the method of implementation for this agreement and, God willing, the first step of the Geneva agreement will be put into action and will start going forward on January 20th," he said.
The deal is part of a November 2013 deal intended to pave the way to a permanent solution to a long standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Western governments think Iran is trying to secretly develop a capability to produce nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program.
Tehran denies those allegations, saying its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
Araghchi said he was informed on January 12 by the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, that the P5+1 group had agreed to January 20 as the date to start implementing their interim agreement:
"We were informed that the six countries have agreed to the proposed solutions and accepted them," he said.
"On the other end, the related authorities have assessed these solutions and ultimately announced their agreement," Araghchi continued. "This agreement was announced in a contact between myself and Lady Ashton and we agreed that this agreement, that is the first step of this agreement, would be implemented on the 20th of January."
Ashton confirmed Araghchi’s announcement in a written statement, saying the sides would now ask the United Nations' nuclear watchdog -- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- to verify the implementation of the interim deal.
Under the November 24, 2013, interim nuclear deal, Iran agreed to curb its most sensitive nuclear work in return for some relief from Western sanctions.
Araghchi on January 12 described details of the interim agreement on Iranian state television.
"There's $4.2 billion of Iran's oil income which will be released and from the other side the conversion of 20-percent-enriched material to oxide or diluting it is to be carried out," Araghchi said. "This action on our side, and that one on theirs, will be performed within a six month span."
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the development and said he would veto "any legislation enacting new sanctions” during ongoing negotiations toward a more comprehensive nuclear agreement.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said at a press conference in Paris on January 12 that the next stage in talks with Iran on its nuclear program would be "very difficult."
"We are very clear-eyed about the even greater challenges that we face in negotiating a comprehensive agreement," Kerry said. "We understand it’s going to be a tough negotiation, and we are very clear about what will be required in order to be able to guarantee to the international community that this is a peaceful program."
But Kerry also described the upcoming negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran as "the best chance that we have to be able to resolve this critical national security issue peacefully and durably."
Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP