US President Barack Obama with Vice President Joe Biden during a live televised address (AFP/File)

The United States and Europe began preparing to lift the trade sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy for two decades, as a historic nuclear deal came into effect.

The procedure to lift the embargo began 90 days after the UN Security Council endorsed the accord signed in Vienna in July, a milestone referred to as “Adoption Day.”

But foreign firms will not be able to resume ties with Iran’s oil industry and banks right away — sanctions will remain in place until Iran fulfils its end of the bargain.

The next stage in the process — “implementation day” — will only come when UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA confirms Iran has dramatically scaled back its nuclear program. Iran said that lengthy process will probably start this week.

On Monday, envoys of the deal signatories — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — will meet in Vienna to form a commission to oversee the implementation of the accord.

Tehran will have to surrender or dilute the bulk of its enriched nuclear fuel stocks, dismantle most of its centrifuges and halt a reactor capable of making plutonium.

Only then will the sanctions “waivers” that US President Barack Obama ordered his administration to issue on Sunday come into effect and trade can begin to resume. (Hindustan Times)