UPDATED: Declaring it a “good day” that proves diplomacy with Iran has been a major success, President Obama on Sunday praised the implementation of a nuclear deal with the old U.S. foe and touted the fact that formerly imprisoned Americans now are on their way home.
“This is a good day because once again we’re seeing what is possible with strong American diplomacy,” Mr. Obama said in remarks at the White House. “These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom, with courage and resolve and patience. America can do and has done big things when we work together. We can lead this world, make it safer and more secure for our children and our grandchildren for generations to come.”
This weekend saw the culmination of a major diplomatic effort over the objections of many in Congress. The Obama administration on Saturday lifted economic sanctions against Iran after the U.N. atomic watchdog agency determined that Tehran has complied with the deal to curb its nuclear program in exchange for the sanctions relief.
In a statement, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the sanctions-termination provisions of Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement are now in effect.
Mr. Obama praised the return of the Americans in his Sunday address and said their families now can breathe a sigh of relief.
“I’ve seen their anguish, how they ache for their sons and husbands. I gave these families my word. I made a vow that we would do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones … Yesterday, these families finally got the news they had been waiting for,” the president said.
Removing the sanctions is part of the international agreement reached last year among Iran, the U.S. and five other world powers when Tehran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
Certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency will allow Iran to immediately recoup some $100 billion in assets frozen overseas. Iran also will see huge benefits from oil, trade and financial opportunities after Western sanctions are lifted.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said Saturday this means “relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase. It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality.”
In Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the administration was lifting sanctions “on the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.”
“As the president himself has acknowledged, Iran is likely to use this cash infusion — more than $100 billion in total — to finance terrorists,” said…