White House

Obama heralds Iran nuclear deal, release of prisoners

President Barack Obama said Sunday that U.S. diplomacy - and not another war in the Middle East - allowed for a nuclear deal with Iran and the release of five Americans from that country.

“This is a good day because one again we are seeing what's possibly with strong American diplomacy,” Obama told reporters at the White House.

The freeing of the Americans and the certification of the nuclear deal, both Saturday, marks the beginning of a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations.

“I decided that a strong, confident America could advance our national security by engaging directly with the Iranian government.” he said.

Obama said the nuclear deal with Iran will prevent that country from making a bomb. He listed the steps that Iran has taken to dismantle its nuclear program. Inspectors also will remain vigilant to ensure Iran cannot rush to create a nuclear bomb, he said.

“Yesterday marked a milestone in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” he said.

Several Americans, unjustly detained by Iran, will be coming home, Obama said. That includes Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Boise, Idaho whose jailing galvanized U.S. Christians, who was released after more than three years in an Iranian prison.

The United States, in turn, released or granted clemency to seven Iranians were never charged with terrorism or any violent offenses, Obama said.

“From Presidents Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, the United States has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries” he said. “Engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis for the first time in decades has created a unique opportunity, a window.”