President Hassan Rouhani hailed on Sunday a nuclear deal with world powers as a “golden page” in Iran’s history, saying he looked forward to an economic future less dependent on oil as the country emerges from years of sanctions.
Iran’s economic isolation ended when world powers lifted the crippling sanctions on Saturday in return for Tehran complying with a deal to curb its nuclear ambitions.
Presenting the draft budget for the next Iranian fiscal year, which begins in March, Rouhani told parliament the deal was a “turning point” for the economy of Iran, a major oil producer that has been virtually shut out of international markets for the past five years.
“The nuclear talks, accomplished and resulted with guidance of the Supreme Leader of the revolution, the support of the nation, and companionship of all pillars of the state, are truly one of the golden pages of the history of this country,” Rouhani said.
Later, at a national televised address and press conference, the Iranian president also hailed the lifting of sanctions as a “historic day” and “great victory” for the nation.
“As of today, our banks can now interact with the banks of the world for financial and monetary purposes,” he said.
Tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will be able to exploit a market hungry for everything from cars to aircraft parts.
“We should use this atmosphere and these conditions for the sake of growth and development of our country, and for the sake of the welfare of the people, for the progress of our country, and also for the progress, stability, and security of the region,” Rouhani said.
Israel, meanwhile, responded with scepticism to the announcement, saying the world should not be “blinded” by Iran’s efforts to halt nuclear activity.
“Iran continues to aspire towards nuclear weapons – the international community mustn’t be blinded,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said in a statement.
“The lifting of sanctions oils the wheels of the terror machine Iran operates throughout the world, and Israel will continue to closely monitor all of Iran’s actions, regarding its nuclear activity and its terror activity,” Danon said.
Rouhani told parliament only “extremists” were unhappy with the nuclear agreement.
“In [implementing] the deal, all are happy except Zionists, warmongers, sowers of discord among Islamic nations and extremists in the US. The rest are happy.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the steps taken by Tehran have fundamentally changed its nuclear programme.
“Today … the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, and the entire world are safer because the threat of the nuclear weapon has been reduced,” Kerry said.
“All sides remain firmly convinced that this historic deal is both strong and fair, and that it meets the requirements of all,” Mogherini said in a joint statement with the Iranian foreign minister.
“This achievement clearly demonstrates that with political will, perseverance, and through multilateral diplomacy, we can solve the most difficult issues and find practical solutions that are effectively implemented,” they said.
With the sanctions now removed, Iran is ready to increase its crude oil exports by 500,000 barrels a day, Deputy Oil Minister Amir Hossein Zamaninia was quoted as saying by the Shana news agency on Sunday.
Iran’s return to an already glutted oil market is one of the factors contributing to a global rout in oil prices, which fell below $30 a barrel last week for the first time in 12 years. Iran is the world’s fourth largest oil producer.
Meanwhile it was also announced that four Americans – including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian – and seven Iranians were being freed in a prisoner swap.
It was unclear on Sunday if Rezaian, who was convicted of spying, or the others had left Iran.
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