Iran warmly welcomes sanctions end, though long thaw ahead

Iran warmly welcomes sanctions end, though long thaw aheadU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified that Iran has met all conditions under the nuclear deal, in Vienna, Saturday Jan. 16, 2016. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The announcement on Saturday that Iran had satisfied its obligations under a nuclear deal with world powers was expected to pave the way for a new economic reality in the Islamic Republic, free from years of harsh international economic sanctions.

The formal declaration in Vienna marked the official implementation of the landmark deal reached in July by Tehran and six world powers — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. In advance of that announcement, Iran and the U.S. conducted a prisoner swap that saw seven Iranians held in America released in exchange for four Iranian prisoners with dual nationalities — including Washington Post bureau chief Jason Rezaian.

“All sides remain firmly convinced that this historic deal is both strong and fair,” said European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking alongside Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “This is an encouraging and strong message that the international community must keep in mind in our efforts to make the world a safer place.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking separately, said Iran “has kept its word and we shall do the same.” However Kerry emphasized the need for the UN and world powers to remain vigilant in ensuring Iranian compliance going forward.

As the speeches in Vienna were still taking place, Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani, a strong supporter of the deal, tweeted in celebration: “#ImplementationDay-I thank God for this blessing in the nuclear talks.”

The deal also could affect Iran’s upcoming parliamentary election in February, further changing the balance of political power in the Islamic Republic. Already, analysts have said they believe it will boost allies of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration helmed the deal.

But since the deal, there have been a series of legal cases in Iran targeting poets, filmmakers, artists, activists and journalists, which analysts attribute to hard-liners’ continuing struggle with moderates.

Prominent analyst Sadeq Zibakalam said implementation of the nuclear deal has brought a genuine rapprochement between Iran and the West for the first time in nearly four decades.

“It’s the first time, 37 years after Iran’s 1979 revolution, that Iran has succeeded in detente with the West, specifically with the U.S. despite radical and hard-line opponents both inside Iran and America as well as the Israeli lobby and Saudi opposition,” Zibakalam said.

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Follow him on Twitter at

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