Wednesday, 20 January, 2016

Obama says 'tireless' effort led to prisoner release

Dana Christensen | 17 January, 2016, 23:55

U.S. President Barack Obama said the test was a violation of Iran's "international obligations".

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a veteran of the negotiations, said cutting off Iran's pathway to a nuclear bomb was a "historical success for diplomacy".

"These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom".

Local newspapers and morning talk shows focused Sunday on celebrations in Tehran for Iran's new opportunity to engage in the world economy.

"We do not pose any threat to nations and governments".

It is also a crowning achievement for Rouhani, a pragmatic cleric elected in 2013 in a landslide on a promise to reduce Iran's worldwide isolation. "Nobody has been defeated in the deal - neither inside the country, nor the countries that were negotiating with us", he said, referring to the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

With global sanctions lifted, more than $30 billion in assets overseas will become immediately available to Iran.

In another development Sunday, Obama announced that the USA and Iran had settled a long-standing financial dispute over $400 million in Iranian money that dates back more than three decades.

The announcement of the exchange came shortly before Iran was certified as having met all commitments under the nuclear deal with six world powers.

Obama said American officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, had pushed for the Americans' release in every meeting with Iranian officials.

The receipt of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report by the 15-member council terminates seven previous United Nations resolutions, which are now replaced by a resolution adopted on July 20 that carries over some UNrestrictions.

Together with other nuclear-related measures under the JCPOA, this increases the Agency's ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran and to verify that they are peaceful.

Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state and Iran's arch-foe, has repeatedly slammed the agreement.

Israel argues that the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran has been eclipsed, for the time being, by the threat of conflict with Lebanon's Hezbollah and other guerrillas who now stand to get increased funding from Tehran. "I'm not so sure", Arad told Israel Radio.

He also admitted that the USA sailors, who were released promptly by Iran after the incursion, had "accidentally strayed into Iranian waters".

Following the Sunni kingdom's execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on January 2, Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran was ransacked - an act condemned by Rouhani.

Oil revenues will make up less than 25 percent of the proposed budget for the next Iranian calendar year that begins March 21, down from 33 percent the previous year.

The move comes a day after Washington and the European Union lifted sanctions related to Tehran's nuclear program.

A "snapback" mechanism ensures that numerous sanctions can be swiftly reimposed, and a special joint commission is meant to handle any misunderstandings.

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