Obama Takes Iran Victory Lap: 'Today Is a Good Day'

President heralds Americans' release, nuke deal, rolls out new sanctions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2016 11:05 AM CST
President Barack Obama makes a statement on the release of Americans by Iran, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.    (Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – President Obama on Sunday heralded the release of Americans held in Iran and the full implementation of a historic nuclear accord, holding both up as victories for "smart" diplomacy and his pledge to deal directly with enemies of the United States. "This is a good day," Obama said. "When Americans are freed and returned to their families, that's something we can all celebrate." He spoke after an extraordinary weekend of diplomacy that saw the back-to-back release of five Americans and lifting of billions in international sanctions on Iran. Yet underscoring the strain between the US and Iran, the Obama administration announced new penalties Sunday on 11 individuals and entities involved in Tehran's ballistic missile program. "We will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously," Obama said. "We are going to remain vigilant about it."

For Obama, the breakthroughs are a validation of his early promise to deal directly with nations such as Iran. "America can do—and has done—big things when we work together," Obama said. "We can lead this world and make it safer and more secure." The president spoke shortly after the Americans began their journey home. Within hours of their release, the US imposed sanctions against those involved in Iran's ballistic missile program as a result of Tehran's firing of a medium-range ballistic missile. UN experts said in a December report that the October missile test violated sanctions banning Iran from launches capable of delivering nuclear weapons. (Read more President Obama stories.)

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