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Iran: US-imposed missile test sanctions are 'illegitimate'

US sanctions imposed on Iranian entities as punishment for a recent ballistic missile test are illegitimate, the Islamic Republic has said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Washington's profitable sales of weaponry to the Middle East undermined the sanctions, which deny 11 companies and individuals access to the US banking system.

"The US sanctions against Iran's ballistic missile programme ... have no legal or moral legitimacy," he said.

The UN's atomic watchdog found Iran had upheld promises to drastically scale back its nuclear programme. Credit: Reuters

"America sells tens of billions of dollars of weaponry each year to countries in the region. These weapons are used in war crimes against Palestinian, Lebanese and most recently Yemeni citizens," he said.

The dispute came after international nuclear sanctions were lifted on Iran for dramatically cutting back its nuclear programme and dumping tonnes of uranium in return for a lifting of crippling sanctions.

US president Barack Obama said the west had “cut off every single path” that Iran could have used to build a nuclear weapon through the landmark deal.

Iran prisoner swap shows warming relations with US

Dr Sanam Vakil

The release of a US journalist and three other dual citizens by Iran shows the extent to which relations have improved between the former foes, a Middle East analyst has said.

Dr Sanam Vakil said the releases under a bilateral prisoner swap had been a "surprise addition" to a landmark nuclear deal that saw international sanctions on Iran lifted last night.

"Its a sign of the confidence building that has come out of the nuclear agreement," she said.

Neither Iran nor the United States have had diplomatic relations for well over three decades - there's a lot of tension and mistrust.

But its sign that this is an administration in Iran that is seeking to build bridges and in areas of mutual interest there can be cooperation.

– Dr Sanam Vakil

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US citizens freed from Iran jail arrive in Switzerland

The plane with the three prisoners on board landed in Geneva

Three of four US citizens freed by Iran under a prisoner swap deal yesterday have landed safely in Switzerland.

The trio are believed to be Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief, Saeed Abedini, and pastor from Idaho and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Michigan.

The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed that the trio had arrived in Geneva, adding they were believed to have already left on the next leg of their journey back towards home soil.

Jason Rezaian was thought to be among the group Credit: Reuters

A fourth prisoner, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, was also freed by Iran yesterday but is understood not to be on the flight.

Obama: We have cut off all Iran's paths to nuclear bomb

Obama said the world was safer as a result of the nuclear deal Credit: Reuters

US president Barack Obama said the west had “cut off every single path” that Iran could have used to build a nuclear weapon through a landmark deal.

The UN yesterday confirmed that Iran had dramatically cut back its nuclear programme and dumped tonnes of uranium in return for a lifting of crippling sanctions.

Mr Obama said the world was more secure under the diplomatic leap, which will see Iran subject to intensive ongoing inspections.

"If Iran tries to cheat, if they try to build a bomb covertly we will catch them," he said.

The bottom line is this: whereas Iran was steadily expanding its nuclear programme, we have now cut off every single path that Iran could have used to build a bomb.

– Barack Obama

He also hailed the talks as opening a "unique opportunity" for diplomatic negotiations, resulting in the release of four of its citizens held by Iran under a prisoner swap.

Plane carrying freed US prisoners leaves Iran

Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and his wife have left Iran, the paper confirmed. Credit: Washington Post

A Swiss plane carrying US prisoners freed by Iran on Saturday as part of a prisoner swap deal, and some family members has left Tehran, a US official has said.

"Yes, the plane has left," the official told Reuters news agency.

Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief, Saeed Abedini, and pastor from Idaho and Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Michigan are believed to be heading to Switzerland.

Friends and colleagues at The Washington Post are elated by the wonderful news that Jason Rezaian has been released from Evin Prison and has safely left the country with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi

– Washington Post publisher publisher Frederick Ryan Jr
Official US and Iranian planes have been seen parked side by side on the tarmac at Geneva airport Credit: APTN

A fifth prisoner, American student Matthew Trevithick, was released separately on Saturday, the official said.

It comes as international sanctions against Iran were lifted after its government met all of its obligations under a deal agreed last July to curb its nuclear programme.

  • Update: Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari was also initially reported to have been on board the plane but this was later clarified as not the case by a senior US official.
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