OTTAWA - Canada vowed Sunday to keep its sanctions regime against Iran after a preliminary deal on the Islamic republic's nuclear programme, calling for a more conclusive accord.
Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme for the next six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a preliminary accord meant to lay the foundations for a comprehensive agreement.
The deal was reached in marathon talks in Geneva that ended before dawn after protracted negotiations between Iran and the so called P5+1 group of United Nations Security Council permanent members plus Germany.
But Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird insisted that Ottawa would keep its "tough" sanctions "in full force" until negotiators clinch a permanent agreement.
"Effective sanctions have brought the regime to present a more moderate front and open the door to negotiations," he said in a statement.
"Today's deal cannot be abused or undermined by deception. The Iranian people deserve the freedom and prosperity that they have been denied for too long by the regime's nuclear ambitions."
Under the deal, Tehran will limit uranium enrichment - the area that raises most suspicions over Iran's alleged nuclear weapons drive - to low levels that can only be used for civilian energy purposes.
UN atomic inspectors will also have additional access, including site inspections.
In exchange, the Islamic republic will receive some $7 billion in sanctions relief and the powers promised to impose no new embargo measures for six months if Tehran sticks to the accord.
But the raft of international sanctions that have badly hobbled the Iranian economy remain untouched.
"A nuclear Iran is not just a threat to Canada and its allies, but it would also seriously damage the integrity of decades of work on nuclear non-proliferation.
It would provoke other neighbouring states to develop their own nuclear deterrent in an already volatile region," Baird said.
"We will evaluate today's deal not just on the merits of its words, but more importantly on its verifiable implementation and unfettered access of all Iranian nuclear facilities."