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President Obama is confirming that the clock starts ticking Jan. 20 on a six-month nuclear deal with Iran, which has agreed to temporarily limit uranium enrichment in exchange for a loosening of sanctions.
"We will now focus on the critical work of pursuing a comprehensive resolution that addresses our concerns over Iran's nuclear program," Obama said in a written statement Sunday.
Obama has vowed to prevent Iran from securing the means to make nuclear weapons; Iran says its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful energy uses.
The dispute – and, perhaps more important, the delay it has caused – cast a shadow over the Nov. 24 announcement of the interim agreement, marked by on-stage embraces and declarations of a new era in relations between Iran and the West. Six weeks later, the vaunted document has not actually been signed. Which means its provisions freezing several elements of Iran’s nuclear program have not gone into effect — nor the countdown to a comprehensive pact, which could take either six months or a year, depending on how you read the document.