President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama Reuters

President Barack Obama on Friday boasted of the nuclear deal that world powers reached with Iran last year.

Speaking at a nuclear summit in Washington and quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Obama highlighted the benefits the deal would bring to Iran’s economy.

“It will take time for Iran to integrate into the global economy, but Iran is already beginning to see the benefits of this deal,” he said, an apparent response to complaints from Tehran that the deal hadn’t delivered promised economic relief after years of international sanctions.

Obama called the agreement “a substantial success” and said that Iran has made “real progress” on living up to its obligations to scale back its nuclear program.

The comments come one day officials in Washington said that the Obama administration is considering easing financial restrictions that prohibit U.S. dollars from being used in transactions with Iran, sparking anger among Republicans as well as some Democrats.

American sanctions block Iran from exchanging the money on its own, but the new guidance, if implemented, would allow dollars to be used in currency exchanges as long as no Iranian banks are involved, according to the officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on Thursday on condition of anonymity.

Republicans have called on the White House not to follow through with the plan to give Iran access to dollars, and some Democrats have said doing so would be a mistake if the U.S. didn’t getting something in return.

Congress is also pressing the White House to take more aggressive steps to counter Iran’s ballistic missile program, noted The Wall Street Journal.

Just this week, the United States and its European allies demanded that the UN Security Council take action over Iran’s repeated ballistic missile tests, which they noted defied a United Nations Security Council resolution that endorsed last year's nuclear deal.

In January, the United States imposed sanctions on Iranian companies and individuals in response to the October missile tests. Last week it named units from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) involved in the country's ballistic missile program to its sanctions blacklist.

But Iran has remained defiant and continues to insist that it will continue to develop its ballistic missile program despite the sanctions.

Obama on Friday was quick to reassure critics that agreeing to the nuclear deal and relaxing economic sanctions on Tehran didn’t mean the U.S. is blind to the tensions that remain between the two countries.

“I think it’s important to note that this deal does not resolve all of our differences with Iran, including destabilizing activities in the region,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal, adding, “Except for limited exceptions, the U.S. trade embargo remains in place. We also continue to vigorously enforce sanctions pertaining to Iran’s support for terrorism, human-rights abuses and ballistic-missile programs.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)