Washington and Tehran faced each other in a new light today, but it was clear that decades of division will not disappear overnight. The latest point of dispute: new sanctions that appeared, even as old ones melted away. The new sanctions aimed at Iran’s ballistic missile program sparked fresh criticism from Tehran, after a weekend of milder words.
HOSSEIN JABERI ANSARI, Spokesman, Iranian Foreign Ministry (through interpreter): The Islamic republic of Iran, as it has made clear in the past, will respond to such acts of propaganda and harassment by following its legitimate missile program more seriously and boosting its defensive and national security capabilities.The limited sanctions announced Sunday followed a missile test in October that violated a United Nations ban. Far more sweeping sanctions are ending, after Saturday’s announcement that Iran’s nuclear program has complied with a landmark agreement.
President Obama hailed the accord’s formal implementation in a Sunday appearance at the White House. According to PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, Under the nuclear deal that we, our allies and partners reached with Iran last year, Iran will not get its hands on a nuclear bomb.
Under the agreement, Iranian technicians removed the reactor core at the Arak nuclear site, effectively ending its production of plutonium for a possible weapon. The regime also cut the number of centrifuges at its Fordow and Natanz sites for enriching uranium. And it shipped tons of low-enriched uranium materials to Russia.
As the nuclear deal came to full power, Iran released four imprisoned Iranian-Americans. They include Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, and Pastor Saeed Abedini. Rezaian, Hekmati and Abedini are now undergoing physical and psychological evaluations at the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Family members gathered there today to be reunited. Rezaian’s brother was among them.