Americans Released as Iran Nuclear Deal Implemented, Missile Sanctions Announced

The United Nations and individual nations lifted their nuclear-related sanctions on Iran this weekend after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had met its obligations under the agreement reached with the P5+1 in July 2015. Under the terms of the deal, Iran has shipped much of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia, ...

GettyImages-505282622
GettyImages-505282622

The United Nations and individual nations lifted their nuclear-related sanctions on Iran this weekend after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had met its obligations under the agreement reached with the P5+1 in July 2015. Under the terms of the deal, Iran has shipped much of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia, removed thousands of centrifuges from its nuclear facilities, and destroyed the plutonium reactor at its Arak facility.

On Saturday, it was revealed that the United States had reached an agreement in secret negotiations to secure the release of several Americans imprisoned in Iran. Under the arrangement, Iran released Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, pastor Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah ­Khosravi-Roodsari. A fifth American, language student Matt Trevithick, was also released, though not as part of the deal. In exchange, the United States has granted clemency to seven people charged with violating sanctions against Iran and dismissed charges against 14 others outside the United States.

Also on Sunday, the United States announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile development, noting 11 companies and individuals participating in actions violating U.N. resolutions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded today saying that the sanctions have “no legal or moral legitimacy” and that the country “will respond to these aggravating and propagandistic measures by pursuing its legal missile programme stronger than before.”

The United Nations and individual nations lifted their nuclear-related sanctions on Iran this weekend after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had met its obligations under the agreement reached with the P5+1 in July 2015. Under the terms of the deal, Iran has shipped much of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia, removed thousands of centrifuges from its nuclear facilities, and destroyed the plutonium reactor at its Arak facility.

On Saturday, it was revealed that the United States had reached an agreement in secret negotiations to secure the release of several Americans imprisoned in Iran. Under the arrangement, Iran released Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, pastor Saeed Abedini, and Nosratollah ­Khosravi-Roodsari. A fifth American, language student Matt Trevithick, was also released, though not as part of the deal. In exchange, the United States has granted clemency to seven people charged with violating sanctions against Iran and dismissed charges against 14 others outside the United States.

Also on Sunday, the United States announced new sanctions targeting Iran’s ballistic missile development, noting 11 companies and individuals participating in actions violating U.N. resolutions. Iran’s Foreign Ministry responded today saying that the sanctions have “no legal or moral legitimacy” and that the country “will respond to these aggravating and propagandistic measures by pursuing its legal missile programme stronger than before.”

U.S. Contractors Abducted in Baghdad

Three U.S. contractors employed at the Baghdad International Airport are missing in Iraq and are believed to have been kidnapped by Shia militiamen after visiting the home of their interpreter. The men were abducted from the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad, according to Iraqi police, where the Iran-backed militia Asai’b Ahl al-Haqq has a strong presence.

Headlines

  • Islamic State fighters swept into Deir Ezzor, Syria, killing dozens of people after the Assad regime airdropped supplies to besieged neighborhoods.

 

  • A U.S. drone strike struck a vehicle in Shabwa Province, Yemen, killing three men believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; it is the first drone strike in Yemen reported this year.

 

  • The United States is discussing with Arab coalition states the possibility of deploying special operations forces to fight the Islamic State, according to remarks last week by the U.S. secretary of defense.

 

  • Seven people were killed in Aden, Yemen, when a car bomb was detonated at the home of the city’s police chief in a failed assassination attempt.

 

  • Saudi Arabia authorized $50 million in aid to Somalia on January 7, the same day that Somalia severed diplomatic relations with Iran, according to a report by Reuters.

Arguments and Analysis

Done deal: As the Iran nuclear agreement is implemented, sanctions and prisoners are released” (Suzanne Maloney, Markaz)

“Releasing the dual nationals on the same day that Iran’s nuclear concessions were certified must have been a particularly bitter pill for Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And the confluence will only strengthen the conviction in many corners that President Barack Obama and the other architects of the nuclear deal do not see it as purely transactional. Another diplomatic victory, another crack in the wall of mistrust between old adversaries: Iranian hard-liners and American allies in the Gulf will see the prisoner swap as evidence of what they always suspected and most feared: the slippery slope of U.S.-Iranian normalization. In my view, that remains wildly unrealistic; Iran’s current leadership neither seeks full rapprochement nor is prepared to pay the price that such a reversal would entail. But the perception alone will further boost Rouhani among his population and it will reverberate within Iran’s fiercely competitive elite politics in an even more significant fashion.”

 

Why Turkey’s government is threatening academic freedom” (A. Kadir Yildirim, Monkey Cage)

“The anti-intellectualism endemic in Turkish society is best illustrated by those who wield political power. The Islamist-leaning AKP displays a fetish for political power, which reveals itself as anti-intellectualism par excellence. Education is reduced to a set of mechanical classroom teachings and — in an unmistakable testament to the value of the booming construction sector to the ruling AKP — new school buildings. The significance of the statements by some AKP officials urging the creation of multiple new universities on current METU campus emanates from the fact that it represents this anti-intellectual attitude perfectly. Scholarly activity and accumulation of knowledge are no match to erecting school buildings. Erdogan himself has displayed this attitude on multiple occasions. For example, he crassly mocked Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, holder of a doctoral degree, former head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and his opponent in presidential elections in the summer of 2014, for being too educated. Along the same lines, in his attacks against the petition-signing academics, Erdogan charged them with being ‘fifth columns’ of foreign powers and ‘so-called intellectuals.’ This latest effort by Erdogan amounts to no less than a redesign of academia in his own image, as in many other sectors of life in the country.”

-J. Dana Stuster

KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images

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