Heaven or Hell? The Iranian nuclear team’s road ahead

It may not be a long way to go to reach a comprehensive agreement and open Iran's doors for business

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

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Last Sunday, a regional civilian airplane assembled in Iran crashed near Mehrabad airport in Tehran, killing 39 and injuring another nine people on board. The Iran-140 is a plane based on Ukrainian technology that is assembled under license in Iran. Five of these planes have crashed in the recent years and it’s not a secret that the US strict sanctions forced Iran to use sub-standard and cheap quality aircrafts.

In the wake of Iran’s negotiations with Western powers, especially the United States, over its nuclear file, aircraft company Boeing has announced it has been given limited US government approval to export spare parts to Iran. Still, the permission from the US Treasury does not include allowing any US or European companies to sell new aircrafts to Iran. However, Boeing said it had "entered into an agreement and engaged in related discussions with Iran Air" setting forth the general conditions by which it will sell airplane parts and other safety-related equipment.

Under a six-month deal implemented in January this year with P5+1 (Five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany), Iran has agreed to scale down its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief from six world powers. That deal was extended by four months in July after the parties failed to reach a comprehensive deal.

It may not be a long way to go to reach a comprehensive agreement and open Iran's doors for business and a higher quality of living for Iranians, but there still remains some barriers to cross before the November 23rd deadline.

Under a phased cooperation pact hammered out late last year with the IAEA investigation, Iran agreed to implement five nuclear transparency measures by August 25. Yukia Amano, Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), arrived in Tehran on Sunday Aug 17 ahead of the deadline to hold talks with President Rowhani and other officials. Iran is supposed to provide some information relevant to the enquiry by the IAEA regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, and Amano’s first meeting with president Rowhani is seen as an attempt to push for progress before making his report to P5+1 ahead of their meeting with Iran before the interim deal expires on November 23.

It may not be a long way to go to reach a comprehensive agreement and open Iran's doors for business

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

While the lifting of some sanctions improved the economy in general, the perspective of reaching the final agreement in November is what most Iranians look for. But it seems that Iran’s supreme leader thinks differently from both his people and the government.

Khamenei, who was speaking to a gathering of Iran’s diplomats in Tehran on 13 August, told them that despite this year of talks with the US, Washington hasn’t decreased its animosity against Iran. “Americans didn’t decrease their animosity nor did they lift the sanctions, and in fact, increased the sanctions! Of course they are saying these sanctions are not new, but they are new and the negotiations on sanctions were useless.” Khamenei said.

According to Iranian customs data, the country in recent months has exported 525,000 barrels of ultralight oil a day, known as condensates. In the last three months, the sales have generated as much as $1.5 billion in extra trade — amounting to $6 billion a year. There is no doubt that Iran’s economy has been boosted as a result of the direct talks with the U.S. regardless of the supreme leader's remarks.

‘Cowards, to Hell’

What Ayatollah Khamenei said last Wednesday shouldn’t be interpreted that is against the talks. Eventually, the supreme leader is not against the talks but he is against Iran and the U.S. become friendly nations simply because Iran’s civil aviation is no longer safe for its people or that it desperately needs access to international banking system. The supreme leader said there was no benefit in negotiating with the U.S. except in certain cases. “Of course, in the area of nuclear talks, we will not stop them,” Khamenei said.

In contrast, the moderate camp believes Iran must reach an agreement immediately.

“Cowards, to hell,” Rowhani said of the conservatives in Iran during the same week in which Iran’s central bank received the final payment of funds that were frozen by the U.S., $500 million, out of a total of $4.2 billion.

If the economy is getting better because of the talks with the U.S., then why is the supreme leader denying it?! Did he want to assure his supporters who are criticizing the president and his negotiating team that his support for them has a limit?

Eventually, and by the end of November, a group in Iran would "go to hell". Till then, the president and his team on one hand, and his opponents, on the other hand, choose to remain in limbo.


Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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