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Iran has cut atomic programme, says UN watchdog

Iran has cut back its nuclear activities in line with an international agreement, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog IAEA has announced.

It paves the way for international sanctions to be lifted.

An Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr Credit: Reuters

The announcement comes after the US and Iran announced a prisoner swap, a major diplomatic coup setting the stage for today's much anticipated announcement.

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Iran prisoner swap 'marks new era for relations with the West'

The prisoner swap by Iran marks a "new era in relations with the West", a former Iranian diplomat has told ITV News.

Mehrdad Khonsari said it is a "victory for common sense and diplomacy".

Seven prisoners - including US journalist Jason Rezaian - were freed by Iran in a prisoner swap.

The release comes as Iran's foreign minister met with John Kerry in Vienna, as international sanctions are expected to be lifted on Iran.

It is a victory for common sense and diplomacy that has persevered. It's a victory for not giving up when things don't look bright and trying to work things out peacefully...

What has taken place marks the beginning of a new era in Iran's relations with the West.

– Mehrdad Khonsari

ITV News Correspondent Duncan Golestani reports:

Student is fifth US citizen released by Iran

Iran has released a fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, a US official has announced.

He was said to have been freed separately from four dual nationals including the US reporter Jason Rezaian who are being released under a 'prisoner swap' deal.

A US official said the state has offered clemency to seven Iranians who were convicted or had pending trials. It also removed intentional red wanted notices against a further 14 people.

The swap comes as the US and Iran work on a historic nuclear deal Credit: Reuters

A US official has stressed the deal is a "one-time arrangement" that should not be viewed as a precedent.

It comes amid a historic thaw in relations between the US and Iran ahead of a widely anticipated nuclear deal.

US releases seven Iranians under 'prisoner swap'

American officials have confirmed that the Washing Post reporter Jason Rezaian is among four dual US citizens being released by Tehran under a 'prisoner swap' deal.

Jason Rezaian is among four dual citizens being released by Iran Credit: AP

They announced the US is to release seven Iranians, six of who hold dual US citizenship, who were held for violations of international sanctions against Iran, officials in Washington said.

In a addition Rezaian, three other dual citizens being released by Iran are Amir Hekmat, a former US marine; Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor; and Nosratollah Khosravi.

None of the US prisoners held by Iran have yet left Tehran, the US said.

US pastor's wife says he has been released by Iran

The wife of an American pastor held as a prisoner in Iran said that he was among seven freed under a 'prisoner swap'.

Saeed Abedini has been named as one of those freed today, according to news agencies in Iran.

His wife Naghmeh Abedini tweeted: "It is confirmed: Saeed is released from Iranian prison."

The former Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian is also reported to be among four men with dual US-Iranian national to be released.

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Iran releases four dual Iranian-US detainees

Iran has released four prisoners with dual Iranian-US nationality, the Tehran public prosecutor was quoted as saying, without giving further details.

Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian is included in those released, according to Iran's semi-official FARS news agency.

It named the other three as Amir Hekmat, a former US marine; Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor; and Nosratollah Khosravi.

"In line with orders from the Supreme National Security Council and in the national interest, four Iranian dual national prisoners have been released in a prisoner swap," Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi was quoted as saying by Iranian news agencies.

IRNA news agency's English language service quoted him as saying the freed prisoners were Iranian-Americans.,

US Secretary of State Kerry meets Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The release comes as Iran's foreign minister met with John Kerry in Vienna, as international sanctions are expected to be lifted on Iran.

The lifting of sanctions are expected to be triggered when the United Nations nuclear agency declares Tehran has complied with an agreement to scale back its nuclear program.

Iran starts removal of nuclear materials from country

A ship carrying more than 11,000 kg of low-enriched uranium materials left Iran for Russia on Monday Credit: PA

Iran has started to remove thousands of kilograms of nuclear materials from the country in what has been hailed as a "significant step" towards meeting its commitments to a nuclear accord agreed earlier this year.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that a ship carrying more than 11,000 kg of low-enriched uranium materials left Iran for Russia on Monday

He said in a statement: "The shipment included the removal of all of Iran's nuclear material enriched to 20 percent that was not already in the form of fabricated fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor.

"This removal of all this enriched material out of Iran is a significant step toward Iran meeting its commitment to have no more than 300 kg of low-enriched uranium."

As part of the historic nuclear deal, agreed in July, world leaders have agreed to lift sanctions imposed upon Iran in exchange for the country halting its nuclear programme.

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