Last weekend, on January 17, President Barack Obama delivered a statement about the United States lifting economic sanctions on Iran, satisfied with the successful implementation of the international agreement to place limitations on Iran's nuclear activities and grateful for the release of five Americans who were held by the Islamic Republic. The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board writes on how this engagement is paying off:
Iran's compliance with key portions of the agreement, which was certified Saturday by the International Atomic Energy Agency places significant obstacles in the way of its ability to develop nuclear weapons. As Obama noted, Iran has removed two-thirds of its centrifuges and shipped more than 98% of its enriched uranium out of the country. It has filled a reactor capable of producing plutonium with concrete.
In exchange for these steps, Iran will receive significant relief from international economic sanctions, including some imposed by the United States. That is an acceptable trade-off, despite the possibility that some of the tens of billions of dollars Iran will receive might be spent on actions that are destabilizing in the region, including possibly terrorism.
In his remarks on Sunday, the President pointed to the benefits of continuing contact between the U.S. and Iran, noting both the positive response and swift release of 10 U.S. sailors who had strayed into Iranian waters last week and also addressing Iran for its “destabilizing behavior elsewhere, including its threats against Israel and our gulf partners, and its support for violent proxies in places like Syria and Yemen.”
He noted that the U.S. continues to impose sanctions on Iran for its human rights violations, its support of terrorism and its ballistic missile program. On the last point, he announced new sanctions against 11 individuals and companies, to punish Iran for conducting tests prohibited under a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Finally, Obama's careful engagement with Iran contrasts favorably with the reckless and bellicose line taken by some of those who would succeed him. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz pledges that on his first day as president he “will immediately repeal every word of President Obama's dangerous Iran deal.” Sen. Marco Rubio, a bit less grandiosely, promises to “begin to undo the deal with Iran on Day One.” That sort of knee-jerk hostility is just as foolish as an uncritical acceptance of Iran's assurances about its intentions.
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