By The Associated Press
VIENNA (AP) — The latest developments as Iran and world powers prepare to implement a landmark deal reached last year to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions (all times local).
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Iran has met its obligations to the U.N. atomic watchdog and has ordered that nuclear-related U.S. economic sanctions against Iran be lifted.
In a statement, Kerry said the sanctions termination provisions of Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement are now in effect.
President Barack Obama delegated authority to Kerry to make the determination. Kerry’s statement followed a determination by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran has complied with the deal to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The head of the U.N. nuclear agency has confirmed that Iran has met its obligations under a landmark nuclear deal reached with six world powers.
Certification by the International Atomic Energy Agency will allow Iran to immediately recoup some $100 billion in assets frozen overseas. Iran will also see huge benefits from new oil, trade and financial opportunities after Western sanctions against it are lifted.
IAEA director general Yukiya Amano says Saturday this means “relations between Iran and the IAEA now enter a new phase. It is an important day for the international community. I congratulate all those who helped make it a reality.”
Among the seven Iranians affected by the U.S.-Iranian prisoner swap is Bahram Mechanic, who has been jailed since his indictment last April on charges of illegally exporting microelectronic technology to Iran.
Defense lawyer Joel Androphy said his client was “elated” to be pardoned Saturday but says Mechanic’s “been incarcerated for 9 months for a crime that he’s just accused of but did not commit.”
Two other defendants in the case, Khosrow Afghahi and Tooraj Faridi, are also among those being offered clemency.
Androphy said the products his client was accused of providing to Iran were essentially surge protectors but the Justice Department “blew it up into some sort of national security terrorism threat.” He says Mechanic is “basically a victim of the trade issues between the United States and Iran.”
The wife of an Idaho pastor who is among four detained Americans being released from Iran says the news is “a huge burden lifted off.”
Naghmeh Abedini told The Associated Press on Saturday that after she learned that Iran was going to release Pastor Saeed Abedini, she woke her kids up and told them “Daddy was coming home.”
She said in a telephone interview from Boise that “they were just excited. They couldn’t believe it.”
The Boise man was detained for compromising national security, presumably because of Christian proselytizing, in September 2012. He was sentenced in 2013 to 8 years in prison.
Iran agreed Saturday to release four detained Americans in exchange for seven Iranians held or charged in the United States. A fifth American detained in Iran, a student, was also released in an unrelated move.
The publisher of The Washington Post says he “couldn’t be happier” to hear that the paper’s reporter, Jason Rezaian, had been released from Iran’s Evin Prison on Saturday.
In a statement, publisher Frederick J. Ryan Jr. also says more information will be available once he has more details and can confirm Rezaian has safely left Iran.
Rezaian had been held more than 543 days on espionage and related charges. He is among four detained Americans released Saturday in exchange for seven Iranians held or charged in the U.S.
The release is part of a major diplomatic breakthrough as implementation of the historic nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers appears imminent.