Inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog who confirmed that Iran had halted production of 20 percent enriched uranium at Natanz and Fordo at noon Monday, the first day of the implementation of the interim nuclear deal clinched with the six powers two months ago.  Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Tehran is ready to embark on the next stage of negotiations for a final nuclear accord.

 Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced earlier: "Two cascades (used to enrich uranium) in Natanz and four cascades in Fordo will be disconnected by noon which means the production of 20 percent is practically stopped," Salehi added.

The country must also begin neutralizing its stockpile of uranium purified to 20 percent, a few technical steps short of weapons-grade.  DEBKAfile: The interim accord did not relate to the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program or the secret sites known to be covertly continuing enrichment out of sight of the nuclear watchdog.