WASHINGTON D.C. – The United States released $8 billion in frozen assets to Iran on Sunday in a move meant to ensure Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement signed over the weekend, say top Iranian officials, theÂ Washington Free Beacon reportedÂ Monday.
Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht confirmed Monday that the U.S. government freed $8 billion in assets that had been blocked by the Obama administration.
In addition, Iran will get about $7 billion in sanctions relief, gold, and oil sales under the nuclear deal that was signed in Geneva with Western nations over the weekend.
Iranian officials have lauded the deal as a path to opening up greater trade relations with the West.
“The agreement will open a new path towards Iran,”Â Alinaqi Khamoushi, former head of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, told the Islamic Republic News Agency.
“The agreement will ease the anti-Iran sanctions, which will have significant impacts on the Iranian economy,” he said.
At least one senior Republican aide on Capitol Hill was disturbed by the reports.
“It’s pretty clear the White House and State Department have been lying to the American people since the beginning of this process, so it wouldn’t shock me to learn they are lying about how much sanctions relief they’re giving Iran now,” the aide, who was not identified, told The Beacon.
The State Department has denied that sanctions have been altered since an interim deal with Iran was announced.
“This report is false. Sanctions today are the same as they were last week,” a senior State Department official said in response to a report by Far, an Iranian newspaper. “We will be forthcoming with guidance on how the technical terms of the relief package are worked out once all that is determined.”
Iran announced on Sunday that its nuclear work would continue despite the deal, which is aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program and enrichment of uranium, the key to producing a nuclear weapon.
Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, who helped ink the deal, praised it for recognizing Iranâ€™s right to enrich uranium, a key sticking point that had delayed the deal.
“The [nuclear] program has been recognized, and the Iranian people’s right to use the peaceful nuclear technology based on the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] and as an inalienable right has been recognized and countries are necessitated not to create any obstacle on its way,” Zarif said.
“The program will continue, and all the sanctions and violations against the Iranian nation under the pretext of the nuclear program will be removed gradually,” he said.
Iran’s most well known nuclear sites will remain operational under the deal, said Zarif, who presented a very different version of the agreementÂ than that described by the White House on Saturday.
Over the next six months, Iran will see “the full removal of all [United Nations] Security Council, unilateral and multilateral sanctions, while the country’s enrichment program will be maintained,” Zarif said, adding that the Fordo and Natanz nuclear sites will continue to run.
“None of the enrichment centers will be closed, and Fordo and Natanz will continue their work, and the Arak heavy water [nuclear reactor] program will continue in its present form, and no material [enriched uranium stockpiles] will be taken out of the country, and all the enriched materials will remain inside the country,” Zarif said. “The current sanctions will move towards decrease, no sanctions will be imposed and Iran’s financial resources will return.”
The United States recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium up to 5 percent under the deal, say both the Iranians and a White House brief on the accord.
The United States agreed to suspend “certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue,” says aÂ fact sheet provided by the White House.
Iran could earn another $4.2 billion in oil revenue under the deal.
Another “$400 million in governmental tuition assistance” could also be “transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students,” the White House said.