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Iran to get access to BILLIONS in frozen assets as sanctions lifted and US prisoners freed

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IRAN is to get access to billions of pounds in frozen assets after trade sanctions imposed by the EU and US were lifted on Saturday.

The country emerged from years of economic isolation when world powers halted the restrictions in return for Tehran curbing its nuclear ambitions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna confirmed that the conditions set after major talks last July had been fulfilled paving the way for Iran to resume oil exports.

Within minutes, the US formally lifted banking, steel, shipping and other sanctions.The EU also began the process of halting sanctions and Iran’s transport minister said Tehran plans to buy 114 civil aircraft from European aircraft maker Airbus.

Iran nuclear plantGETTY

The move has taken years of talks, according to officials

Iran nuclear plantGETTY

The IAEA confirmed conditions set last year had been met

In a dramatic move, the Islamic Republic announced the release of five American prisoners including journalist Jason Rezaian as part of a prisoner swap with the United States.It is hoped that the halt on sanctions will reduce hostility between Tehran and the West.

Britain has welcomed the move with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond saying the findings of the IAEA inspectors had confounded sceptics.

He urged British firms to take advantage of new opportunities as Iran was brought in from the cold.

Philip Hammond

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has hailed the deal

Mr Hammond said: ”The nuclear deal with Iran, in which Britain played a major role, makes the Middle East and the wider world a safer place.“Years of patient and persistent diplomacy, and difficult technical work, have borne fruit as we now implement the deal.”

He added: “Tonnes of uranium have been shipped out of Iran, thousands of centrifuges have been taken out of use and the core has been removed from the Arak reactor.