Obama applauds ‘smart’ diplomacy behind Iran deal
American prisoners in Iran have been released through “smart” diplomacy and now America and the entire world is more secure because of the recently-concluded nuclear deal, U.S. President Barack Obama said Sunday.
In remarks made at the White House, Obama praised his administration for making Iran stay away from a nuclear bomb with a “smart, patient and disciplined approach to the world”.
“The U.S. has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries,” he said. “On the sidelines of the nuke negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary [John] Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans,” he said.
The president said that a strong and confident America could advance its national security now by engaging directly with the Iranian government.
“We have seen the results,” he said.
Obama said that although the Iran deal was never intended to resolve all problems between the U.S. and Iran, it had now created a window “to try to resolve important issues”.
About the recent release of five U.S. prisoners, who were according to him “unjustly detained by Iran”, the president noted that he had promised their families to bring them home. The prisoners are expected to arrive in the U.S. Sunday.
He also said that Tehran had agreed to deepen coordination with the U.S. in trying to locate former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared almost nine years ago during a visit to Iran.
During his speech, the president also said that a fifth U.S. citizen student, Matthew Trevithick, imprisoned by Iran was released as well separately Saturday.
Obama also said that the U.S. offered clemency to seven Iranians, who had been convicted or are pending trial in the U.S.
“They’re civilians, and their release is a one-time gesture to Iran given the unique opportunity offered by this moment and the larger circumstances at play,” he said.
About resolving the three-decade old financial dispute with Iran, Obama said Tehran would be “returned its own funds, including appropriate interest, but much less than the amount Iran sought.”
“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” he said, adding that the U.S. remained “steadfast in opposing Iran’s destabilizing behavior elsewhere”.
Obama reminded that the U.S. still had sanctions on Iran for its alleged violations of human rights and alleged support for terrorism and ballistic missile program.
“We will continue to enforce these sanctions, vigorously,” he said. “And we are going to remain vigilant about it.”
Earlier Sunday, the U.S. Treasury Department announced it was imposing sanctions on 11 people and companies involved in Tehran’s ballistic missile program, just a day after nuclear-related restrictions were removed.
“Iran’s ballistic missile program poses a significant threat to regional and global security, and it will continue to be subject to international sanctions,” Adam J. Szubin, acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a written statement.
“We have consistently made clear that the United States will vigorously press sanctions against Iranian activities outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – including those related to Iran’s support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile program.”
Obama’s remarks came a day after the U.S. and EU lifted international sanctions on Iran Saturday following the announcement of the International Atomic Energy Agency that the country was complying with its nuclear-related obligations agreed last summer.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano announced Saturday that Iran completed necessary preparatory steps to start implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The world powers’ group P5+1, which includes China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus Germany, the European Union, and Iran reached a nuclear framework deal on July 14, 2015, which was called the JCPOA.