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Iranian Reaction To Implementation Day


After being held for nearly 18 months in Iran, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian has been released along with four other Americans being held in Tehran.

His brother, Ali Rezaian, who had been lobbying for his release gave this statement this morning. He said, quote, "I'm incredibly relieved that Jason is on his way home. He is a talented journalist who was simply doing his job fairly, accurately and lawfully." He added that the family's nightmare is approaching an end.

Now we turn to an Iranian analyst and journalist to learn more about the reaction in that country to the news that economic sanctions are being lifted because Iran has held up its end of the nuclear deal signed this summer.

On the line is Negar Mortazavi. She's a reporter based in New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

NEGAR MORTAZAVI: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: President Hassan Rouhani held a press conference in Tehran this morning. What did he say?

MORTAZAVI: So he was basically praising the negotiations team. The victory - this is a very big for his administration, for his government. But considering that he was speaking to a parliament who was mostly consisting of conservatives, he was trying to keep a balanced tone and make this - looking into something that's a win-win situation for all of the different political factions in Iran. That's very important. That's something that President Rouhani has been trying to do since the beginning of his presidency, to try to reduce the political tensions, even within the factions in Iran.

So he sort of portrayed a big victory for the entire country, for all of the political system. He spoke of the economic opportunities that are opening up. He spoke of peace and stability in the region with Iran's neighbors and also with the world. And overall, it was - I would say it was a joyful moment for him.

MARTIN: We're hearing that reaction in Tehran just among ordinary citizens has been fairly muted. Considering the economic toll that the sanctions have had on Iran's economy, I would have thought there would have been more reaction.

MORTAZAVI: I have seen a lot of reactions actually on social media and especially on Iranian newspapers because newspapers in Iran, as opposed to television and radio, are what's more reflective of the society. They're more independent, and they have more independent and, I would say, diverse voices.

So looking at Iranian newspapers this morning and looking at social media - and basically, that's where a lot of people express their personal opinion, a lot of people have been happy. They've been following this deal, and they've just been, you know, happy about the lifting of sanctions which is something the president had promised two years ago in his election. And it's just people looking forward to new opportunities in the future. Of course, nothing is going to change overnight, and we'll just have to wait and see how the lifting of sanctions and the unblocking of assets and the new deals and everything are going to have an effect on people's everyday lives.

MARTIN: What is likely to be the short-term and medium-term effect, though? Obviously, frozen assets, unfrozen; investment can now start coming into Iran.

MORTAZAVI: Yes, of course. So there've been reports of Iranian ships and containers basically just waiting for the minute the sanctions are lifting to leave the waters to, you know, to take a lot of - all kinds of Iranian products and exports that have been stalled over the years.

There is Iran's inclusion back into the banking and financial system. Some of Iranian banks - some of the most important banks in Iran had been on the sanctions list. They had been cut off from the banking and financial systems. Them getting back into the world, being able to open LCs, to do - to get back into their credit system, the SWIFT system - these are all very important issues in a very high level, not for an everyday citizen. But people have felt the toll, even on the everyday life. So these are things that are going to immediately change.

MARTIN: And we'll have to...

MORTAZAVI: And of course, in the longer-term...

MARTIN: And we'll be watching that.

MORTAZAVI: ...The investments.

MARTIN: We'll be watching how all that unfolds. Negar Mortazavi - she's an Iranian journalist and analyst. She joined us on the line from New York.

Thanks so much.

MORTAZAVI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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