Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hold a press conference in Vienna on January 16, 2016. AFP / APA / HANS PUNZ
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The historic nuclear accord between Iran and major powers entered into force Saturday as the UN confirmed that Tehran has shrunk its atomic program and as painful sanctions were lifted on the Islamic republic.Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, whose 2013 election helped launch the Herculean diplomatic effort towards the July 14 Vienna deal, said it was a "glorious victory" for the "patient nation of Iran". The so-called "Implementation Day" for the accord also followed news of a prisoner swap between Iran and the United States in another sign of thawing relations between the two foes since the July 14 agreement.The steps taken by Iran, combined with ultra-close IAEA inspections, extend to at least a year -- from a few months previously -- how long Iran would need to make one nuclear bomb's worth of fissile material. Iran has always denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities are exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.Sunni Saudi Arabia, Iran's other great regional rival, is also alarmed at the prospect of warmer US-Iran ties and of predominantly Shiite Iran, newly flush with oil revenues, increasing its influence.
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