President Barack Obama called the deal between the United States and Iran to lift international nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic “smart” as four U.S. prisoners were released from Iranian prison and returned to the United States as part of a prisoner exchange. However, shortly after U.S. prisoners were put on an airplane headed to a U.S. military base, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on the country for ballistic missile testing.
In a White House press release, President Barack Obama notes that Iran has followed through on its end of the bargain regarding the nuclear sanctions agreed upon by both Iran and the United States government; therefore, it was time for America to follow through on their end by loosening some of the economic restrictions that have been placed on the Islamic Republic. Obama spelled out exactly what parts of the deal Iran has followed through on and says that it has been verified that Iran no longer has the means to create a nuclear weapon.
“Over more than a decade, Iran had moved ahead with its nuclear program, and, before the deal, it had installed nearly 20,000 centrifuges that can enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb. Today, Iran has removed two-thirds of those machines. Before the deal, Iran was steadily increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium — enough for up to 10 nuclear bombs. Today, more than 98 percent of that stockpile has been shipped out of Iran — meaning Iran now doesn’t have enough material for even one bomb. Before, Iran was nearing completion of a new reactor capable of producing plutonium for a bomb. Today, the core of that reactor has been pulled out and filled with concrete so it cannot be used again.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 17, 2016
Obama says that this has been accomplished through smart diplomacy and opening communications with our adversaries. However, another “win” for Obama was the fact that five Americans being detained in Iran unjustly were also returned home. Obama notes that the nuclear deal made this prisoner exchange possible.
“On the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations, our diplomats at the highest level, including Secretary Kerry, used every meeting to push Iran to release our Americans. I did so myself, in my conversation with President Rouhani. After the nuclear deal was completed, the discussions between our governments accelerated. Yesterday, these families finally got the news that they have been waiting for. “
However, it seems that the US had another move in their playbook that they had been holding on since December. Fox 29 News reports that in December of 2015 the United Nations received evidence that Iran was in violation of sanctions banning the launch of ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. As opposed to bringing the issue to attention in December, the US government decided to wait until after the prisoner exchange was complete. Therefore, shortly after the prisoners were placed on an airplane back to the US, the government announced new sanctions against Iran for violating the ballistic missile terms.
The US Treasury says that the violations were purposefully kept under wraps and the suspected sanctions until the American prisoners were released.
“Negotiations in December over the prisoner exchange delayed the US Treasury’s imposition of the latest sanctions. They were only announced once the plane containing the former prisoners had left Iran.”
The sanctions were placed on 11 people and businesses that were involved in the ballistic missile program in Iran.
[Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]