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  1. Iran Main Page
  2. Iran Becomes a Theocracy with Islamic Revolution
  3. U.S. and Iran Sever Ties Amid Hostage Crisis
  4. Khatami Attempts to Liberalize Nation
  5. Iran Taunts World With Nuclear Ambitions
  6. Ahmadinejad Elected President
  7. Iran Continues Progress on Nuclear Technology
  8. Presidential Election Thrusts Iran into Crisis
  9. Leaked Cables Show Arab Countries Wary of Iran
  10. Experts Fear Iran Will Exploit Tumult in Middle East
  11. Advances in Nuclear Program Lead to Additional Sanctions
  12. Relationship with Israel Reaches Critical Point
  13. Centrist Elected President of Iran; Reaches Out to West with a Charm Offensive
  14. Iran Agrees to Scale Back Nuclear Program, but Deal Remains Elusive
  15. Iran Contributes to the Fight Against ISIS
  16. Historic Nuclear Deal Goes into Effect
Historic Nuclear Deal Goes into Effect

Iran nuclear talks
Carlos Barria, Pool Photo via AP

The leaders of Iran and the six nations that negotiated the nuclear deal

In March 2015, as Iran appeared to be close to signing a 10-year accord that would scale back its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, 47 U.S. Republican senators signed an open letter to Iranian officials saying the agreement could be reversed "with the stroke of a pen" by President Obama's successor. The letter, written by freshman senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, sparked outrage among Democrats, who said the move, which was without precedent, undermined Obama's foreign policy. Iranian officials dismissed the letter and continued the negotiations. "In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy," said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

On Jan. 16, 2016, Iran's sanctions were lifted by the U.S. and European nations. The longstanding sanctions, both financial and oil, were lifted after inspections proved that Iran had dismantled the weapons as agreed upon in the nuclear deal. Around $100 billion of Iran's assets were also released after the inspections by international representatives.

The release of assets and sanctions came hours after a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. Three Americans, a marine, a Washington Post reporter, and a pastor, were freed from Iran and sent to Germany to receive medical treatment at an American military base before returning to the United States. A fourth American prisoner, Nosratollah Khosravi, was freed in the exchanged, but decided to stay in Tehran. A fifth American was freed in a separate arrangement.

For their part, the U.S. released seven Iranians who had broken embargoes. The U.S. also removed 14 other Iranians from international wanted lists. With the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran now in effect, President Obama reached out to Iranians on Jan. 17, asking them to "pursue a new path" with the West. Meanwhile, the U.S. imposed minor new sanctions on Iran for performing banned missile tests.

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