0241 GMT November 21, 2019
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a letter Wednesday to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iran is fulfilling its obligations under the international agreement in what Kerry calls a "transparent" and "verifiable" way, and that "suspension of sanctions ... is appropriate," AP reported.
The committee's top Democrat, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, said at a hearing Thursday that it appears that sanctions relief could start as early as January, not in the spring as initially anticipated.
The deal involving the United States, Iran and five other world powers, would lift all sanctions against Iran for Iran to limit some of its nuclear activities.
Cardin said that throughout the congressional review of the deal, witnesses for the administration guessed that it would be spring until Iran could comply with the terms required for that relief to begin.
"Now we understand it is likely that Iran will be in compliance and entitled to sanctions relief as early as January," Cardin said at the hearing where Obama administration officials were questioned about the deal.
Stephen Mull, the State Department's lead coordinator for implementation of the deal, agreed that some administration officials had speculated that it would take until the spring. But he said the pacing of compliance is in Iran's hands.
Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, said Wednesday that Iran will carry out its remaining obligations in the next two weeks to pave the way for the lifting of sanctions in January. He said Iran would now dismantle some nuclear centrifuges and ship out a major portion of its stockpile of enriched uranium.
Mull emphasized that the agreement requires Iran to take steps to dismantle its nuclear program correctly, not quickly.
"We're not there yet," he said. "I don't think anyone in the US can predict when that will be. The responsibility for that lies with Iran as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency."
Mull said Iran has begun dismantling its uranium enrichment system by removing thousands of centrifuges and transferring them into a storage facility that will be monitored by international nuclear inspectors.