Monday marks the start of the six-month nuclear deal between the United States, allies, and Iran.
President Obama's administration announced Monday that Iran has begun cutting back on uranium enrichment activities; in return the United States and its partners will reduce some existing sanctions on Tehran's regime.
Over the next months, the parties will seek to negotiate a long-term agreement.
"The United States remains committed to using strong and disciplined diplomacy to reach a peaceful resolution that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
Obama and aides will also spend the next six months lobbying Congress against placing new sanctions on Iran, saying new penalties would undercut talks about a long-term agreement.
Carney's statement in full:
"Today, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has taken the initial specific steps it committed to on or by January 20th, as part of the Joint Plan of Action between the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, coordinated by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton), and Iran. As a result, implementation of the Joint Plan of Action will begin today.
"Specifically, the IAEA has verified in a written report and subsequent briefing for P5+1 technical experts, that Iran has, among other things, stopped producing 20% enriched uranium, has disabled the configuration of the centrifuge cascades Iran has been using to produce it, has begun diluting its existing stockpile of 20% enriched uranium, and has not installed additional centrifuges at Natanz or Fordow. These actions represent the first time in nearly a decade that Iran has verifiably enacted measures to halt progress on its nuclear program, and roll it back in key respects. Iran has also begun to provide the IAEA with increased transparency into the Iranian nuclear program, through more frequent and intrusive inspections and the expanded provision of information to the IAEA. Taken together, these concrete actions represent an important step forward.
"In reciprocation for Iran's concrete actions, the United States and its P5+1 partners - the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union - will today follow through on our commitment to begin to provide the modest relief agreed to with Iran. At the same time, we will continue our aggressive enforcement of the sanctions measures that will remain in place throughout this six-month period.
"Following the actions taken today, the P5+1, EU, and Iran will also begin the process of negotiating a long-term, comprehensive solution that seeks to address the international community's concerns about Iran's nuclear program. The United States remains committed to using strong and disciplined diplomacy to reach a peaceful resolution that will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."