Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the world became a safer place today as the Obama administration repealed sanctions on Iran.
Implementation Day came as the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report “confirming that Iran has completed the necessary preparatory steps to start the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
“It was issued after Agency inspectors on the ground verified that Iran has carried out all measures required under the JCPOA to enable Implementation Day to occur,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said. “This paves the way for the IAEA to begin verifying and monitoring Iran’s nuclear-related commitments under the agreement, as requested by the U.N. Security Council and authorised by the IAEA Board.”
In releasing guidance on the lifting of sanctions, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the administration “will continue to target sanctionable activities outside of the JCPOA – including those related to Iran’s support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile development.”
Members of Congress, particularly a group of Senate Democrats, have been pressuring the administration to act against Iran’s missile program in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.
“It is also important to note that, other than certain limited exceptions provided for in the JCPOA, the U.S. embargo broadly remains in place, meaning that U.S. persons, including U.S. banks, will still be prohibited from virtually all dealings with Iranian entities,” Lew said.
In Vienna, Kerry didn’t take questions from reporters because he said his airline pilots would have run afoul of rest period regulations.
The Obama administration has insisted that the Americans imprisoned in Iran would not be connected to the nuclear deal, thus the P5+1 agreement was inked without assurances of their release.
“While the two tracks of negotiations were not directly related – and they were not – there is no question that the pace and the progress of the humanitarian talks accelerated in light of the relationships forged and the diplomatic channels unlocked over the course of the nuclear talks. And certainly in the time since we reached an agreement last July, there was a significant pickup in that dialogue,” Kerry said.
Seven people, mostly U.S. citizens, held on a variety of national security charges from hacking a defense contractor to procuring banned items for Iran were released by the U.S. in exchange for Americans Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah Khosrawi Roudsari. Matthew Trevithick, an American student detained by Iran since November, was also released, with the U.S. claiming he wasn’t part of the swap but a goodwill gesture by Iran.
Iran did not release or provide information on the whereabouts of Bob Levinson, a retired FBI agent seized off the coast of Iran in March 2007. His angry family tweeted today with the hashtag
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