As US, EU lift sanctions on Iran, countries agree on prisoner swap

Together, the lifting of sanctions and the prisoner deal considerably reduce the hostility between Tehran and Washington that has shaped the Middle East since Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979.

By: Reuters | Vienna/ Washington | Published:January 18, 2016 3:00 am
iran, USA, iran nuclear sanction, iran sanction lifted, iran US prisoner swap, john kerry, Javad Zarif, iran news, USA news, world news, latest news US Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal, in Vienna January 16, 2016. (Source: Reuters)

Three Iranian-American left Tehran on Sunday under a prisoner swap following the lifting of most international sanctions on Iran under a nuclear deal that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed as a “golden page” in the nation’s history.

But in a sign of sustained readiness to track Iranian compliance with remaining United Nations curbs, the United States imposed fresh sanctions on 11 companies and individuals for supplying Iran’s ballistic missile programme. The Obama administration imposed the new curbs after delaying the action for more than two weeks during tense negotiations to free five American prisoners, according to people familiar with the matter. Iran conducted a precision-guided ballistic missile test last October, violating a UN ban.

The Obama administration imposed the new curbs after delaying the action for more than two weeks during tense negotiations to free five American prisoners, according to people familiar with the matter. Iran conducted a precision-guided ballistic missile test last October, violating a UN ban.“This is a good day because once again we are seeing what’s possible through strong American diplomacy,” President Barack Obama said at the White House. “These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom.”

“This is a good day because once again we are seeing what’s possible through strong American diplomacy,” President Barack Obama said at the White House. “These things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom.”Rouhani said the agreement could be used as a model to resolve other regional issues. “The nuclear deal has opened new windows for Iran’s engagement with the world,” he said.

Rouhani said the agreement could be used as a model to resolve other regional issues. “The nuclear deal has opened new windows for Iran’s engagement with the world,” he said.The lifting of sanctions and the prisoner deal considerably reduce the hostility between Tehran and Washington that has shaped the Middle East since Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979.

The lifting of sanctions and the prisoner deal considerably reduce the hostility between Tehran and Washington that has shaped the Middle East since Iran’s Islamic revolution of 1979.A US official said a Swiss

A US official said a Swiss plane had left carrying Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho, and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Michigan, as well as some family members.One more Iranian-American released under the same swap, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, was not aboard the aircraft. A fifth prisoner, American student Matthew Trevithick, was released separately on Saturday, a US official said.

One more Iranian-American released under the same swap, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, was not aboard the aircraft. A fifth prisoner, American student Matthew Trevithick, was released separately on Saturday, a US official said.“We can confirm that our detained US citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” a senior US administration official said.

“We can confirm that our detained US citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” a senior US administration official said.Several Iranian-Americans held in US prisons after being charged or convicted for sanctions violations have also been released, their lawyers told Reuters on Sunday.

Several Iranian-Americans held in US prisons after being charged or convicted for sanctions violations have also been released, their lawyers told Reuters on Sunday.\The prisoner deal was the culmination of months of contacts, secret talks and legal manoeuvring which came close to falling apart on at least one occasion.

The prisoner deal was the culmination of months of contacts, secret talks and legal manoeuvring which came close to falling apart on at least one occasion.Speaking to parliament on Sunday, Rouhani, a pragmatist elected in 2013 on promises to end Iran’s years of sanctions and isolation, said he looked forward to an economic future less dependent on oil exports.

Speaking to parliament on Sunday, Rouhani, a pragmatist elected in 2013 on promises to end Iran’s years of sanctions and isolation, said he looked forward to an economic future less dependent on oil exports.These are nevertheless likely to jump now that the United States, European Union and UN have scrapped the sanctions in return for Tehran complying with the deal to curb its nuclear ambitions — ambitions that Tehran says were peaceful.

These are nevertheless likely to jump now that the United States, European Union and UN have scrapped the sanctions in return for Tehran complying with the deal to curb its nuclear ambitions — ambitions that Tehran says were peaceful.But Rouhani noted bitter opposition to the lifting of economic curbs from Israel, some members of the US Congress and what he called “warmongers” in the region — an apparent reference to some of Iran’s Gulf Arab adversaries, not least Saudi Arabia.

But Rouhani noted bitter opposition to the lifting of economic curbs from Israel, some members of the US Congress and what he called “warmongers” in the region — an apparent reference to some of Iran’s Gulf Arab adversaries, not least Saudi Arabia.

Presenting the draft budget for the next Iranian fiscal year, which begins in March, Rouhani told parliament the deal was a “turning point” for the economy of Iran, a major oil producer which has been virtually shut out of international markets for the past five years.

He later said he expected 5 percent economic growth in the next Iranian fiscal year beginning in March and assured foreign investors of political and economic stability.“The nuclear negotiations which succeeded by the guidance of the Supreme Leader and support of our nation, were truly a golden page in Iran’s history,” he said.

“The nuclear negotiations which succeeded by the guidance of the Supreme Leader and support of our nation, were truly a golden page in Iran’s history,” he said.Tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will be able to exploit a market hungry for everything from automobiles to airplane parts.

Tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will be able to exploit a market hungry for everything from automobiles to airplane parts.In The Hague, the United States and Iran settled a longstanding claim, releasing to Tehran $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus $1.3 billion in interest, the State Department said. The funds were part of a trust fund once used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States but which was tied up for decades in litigation at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal. The settlement announcement was made after Tehran released the American detainees.

In The Hague, the United States and Iran settled a longstanding claim, releasing to Tehran $400 million in funds frozen since 1981 plus $1.3 billion in interest, the State Department said. The funds were part of a trust fund once used by Iran to purchase military equipment from the United States but which was tied up for decades in litigation at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal. The settlement announcement was made after Tehran released the American detainees.Israel’s opposition was evident in a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, which said that even after signing the nuclear deal Iran had not yet “abandoned its aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons”.

Israel’s opposition was evident in a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, which said that even after signing the nuclear deal Iran had not yet “abandoned its aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons”.Rouhani took a swipe at Iran’s critics. “Everybody is happy except the Zionists, the warmongers who are fuelling sectarian war among the Islamic nation, and the hardliners in the US congress,” he said.

Rouhani took a swipe at Iran’s critics. “Everybody is happy except the Zionists, the warmongers who are fuelling sectarian war among the Islamic nation, and the hardliners in the US congress,” he said.The International Atomic Energy Agency ruled on Saturday that Iran had

The International Atomic Energy Agency ruled on Saturday that Iran had abided by last year’s agreement with six world powers to curtail its nuclear programme, triggering the end of sanctions.Minutes after the IAEA’s ruling, the United States formally lifted banking, steel, shipping and other sanctions on Iran. The EU likewise ended all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against the country. Most UN sanctions also automatically ended.

Minutes after the IAEA’s ruling, the United States formally lifted banking, steel, shipping and other sanctions on Iran. The EU likewise ended all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against the country. Most UN sanctions also automatically ended.