President Barack Obama says it will take the Iranian economy until 2022 to get back to its pre-sanctions level after the recently negotiated nuclear deal comes into force.
The president said in an interview with the Jewish newspaper Forward, published Monday, that Iran is going to have to use the $50 billion in unfrozen assets just to prop up its badly-sagging economy.
Opponents to the nuclear agreement with Iran, including Israel, say Iran will immediately use the money to bolster its military and support terror groups.
"Their economy is and will continue to be in a significant hole even after sanctions relief occurs." Obama said. "And that's part of the reason that we have confidence that if we work effectively with Israel and our other allies in the region that we can counteract whatever additional resources they may have militarily."
Obama said there have been protests in Iran by teachers and pensioners who have not been paid. He said the sanctions were successful in bringing Iran to the negotiating table because of what he calls their "vigorous multilateral support" and enforcement by the global community.
He also assured Israel and others that Iran will not be able to rush to build a bomb even 10 to 15 years from now because of the tough inspections and monitoring that are part of the nuclear deal.
Obama said as long as the deal is implemented with "care and precision," people will eventually look back on it and say it was the right thing to do.