Over the past several days, the decision to follow the course of patient, tough diplomacy with Iran bore fruit.
The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the Iranian government had fulfilled its key commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to curtail its nuclear program. That verification brought about Implementation Day, in which nuclear-related sanctions imposed on Iran are lifted, and Iran gains access to its own money which had been frozen.
President Barack Obama hailed these developments, saying that now Iran will not be able to develop a nuclear weapon, and that “[t]he region, the United States, and the world will be more secure:”
“Perhaps most important of all, we’ve achieved this historic progress through diplomacy, without resorting to another war in the Middle East.”
President Obama noted that the precedent and practice of engagement with Iran made possible other positive developments, among them the recent, rapid release from detention of American sailors who had accidentally strayed into Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf; and the welcome and long-awaited release of several Americans unjustly held in Iran—-some of whom, like Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini and Jason Rezaian, faced years of continuing imprisonment.
President Obama observed that the United States remains concerned over Iran’s destructive behavior in the region, including its threats against Israel and the Gulf countries; its support of violent proxies in Syria and Yemen; as well as its human rights violations and development of ballistic missiles:
“We are going to remain vigilant about it. We’re not going to waver in the defense of our security or that of our allies and partners.”
But President Obama took the opportunity again to speak directly to the Iranian people:
"Your is a great civilization, with a vibrant culture that has so much to contribute to the world – in commerce, and in science and the arts…Now our governments are talking with one another. Following the nuclear deal, you – especially young Iranians – have the opportunity to begin building new ties with the world.”
“We have a rare chance, to pursue a new path,” said President Obama – “a different, better future that delivers progress for both our peoples and the wider world. That’s the opportunity before the Iranian people. We need to take advantage of that.”