Rouhani hails ‘golden page’ in Iran’s history as sanctions lifted
DUBAI – President Hassan Rouhani hailed on Sunday a nuclear deal with world powers as a “golden page” in Iran’s history, and looked forward to an economic future less dependent on oil as the country emerges from years of sanctions and isolation.
But in an address to parliament he noted bitter opposition to Saturday’s lifting of economic curbs from arch foe Israel, some members of the US Congress and what he called “warmongers” in the region – an apparent reference to some of Iran’s Gulf Arab adversaries.
Iran ended years of economic isolation when world powers lifted the crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic 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 which has been virtually shut out of international markets for the past five years.
“The nuclear negotiations which succeeded by the guidance of the Supreme Leader and support of our nation, were truly a golden page in Iran’s history,” he said.
“The nuclear deal is an opportunity that we should use to develop the country, improve the welfare of the nation, and create stability and security in the region,” Rouhani said.
In a dramatic move which coincided with the scrapping of the sanctions, Tehran also announced the release of five Americans including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian as part of a prisoner swap with the United States.
Together, the lifting of sanctions and the prisoner deal help to ease the hostility between Tehran and Washington that has shaped the Middle East since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
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 automobiles to airplane parts.
CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT FOR ROUHANI
However, America’s thaw with Iran is viewed with deep suspicion by US Republicans as well as allies of Washington in the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. US-Iranian suspicion still remains deeply entrenched.
Israel’s opposition was evident in a statement from the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night.
“Even after the signing of the nuclear agreement, Iran has not abandoned its aspirations to acquire nuclear weapons, and continues to act to destabilise the Middle East and spread terrorism throughout the world while violating its international commitments,” the statement said.
Rouhani took a swipe at its critics. “Everybody is happy except the Zionists, the warmongers who are fueling sectarian war among the Islamic nation, and the hardliners in the US congress,” he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency ruled on Saturday that Iran had abided by an agreement last year with six world powers to curtail its nuclear programme, triggering the end of sanctions. -Reuters