Iran is ready to rejoin the global economy again, after the United States and European Union agreed to lift crippling economic sanctions following confirmation from the United Nations that the country had fulfilled the terms of last year’s nuclear deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had fulfilled its obligations under the agreement, effectively curbing its ability to develop a nuclear weapon. “Today marks the first day of a safer world,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna. “This evening, we are really reminded once again of diplomacy’s power to tackle significant challenges.”
The lifting of sanctions came mere hours after Iran released five U.S. citizens it had been holding as prisoners, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. As part of the swap, President Obama pardoned three Iranian Americans and prosecutors dropped charges against four others. “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,” notes Reuters.
In announcing the lifting of economic sanctions, European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Federica Mogherini said Iran had joined “the field of peaceful users” of nuclear energy. Kerry was sure to highlight how the milestone marks a victory for the diplomatic strategy. “Iran has undertaken significant steps that many, and I do mean many, people doubted would ever come to pass. And that should be recognized, even though the full measure of this achievement can only be realized by assuring continued full compliance in the coming years,” Kerry said. Obama had said earlier that the insistence on diplomacy had kept the United States out of “another war.”
Although European companies will now be able to do business with Iran freely, U.S. firms will still be largely left out of the market. The agreement lifts nuclear-related sanctions, but “it doesn’t touch the sweeping ban on U.S. trade and investment with Iran put in place by the Clinton administration in 1995,” notes the Guardian.