Iran’s economy needs a speedy nuclear deal
Iran is set to resume nuclear talks on January 14
Iran is set to resume nuclear talks on January 14, with a bilateral meeting between Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the U.S. Secretary of the State John Kerry in Geneva.
Kerry and Zarif will outline guidelines to the their negotiating teams who will be taking the reins between January 15-17, followed by a meeting between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) on January 18.
Having not been successful in striking the comprehensive nuclear deal, Iran and the Western powers agreed to extend the talks on November 23 in Vienna for another 7 months until July 2015.
We have seen many hardliners move towards being in favor of finalizing a deal, which shows a level of pragmatismCamelia Entekhabi-Fard
Negotiators have said that Iran and the P5+1 aim to reach a political agreement by March and the seven months extension can give them enough time to finalize the technical aspects of the deal.
Iran’s enrichment capacity
Ali Akbar Salehei, head of the IAEO, mentioned that the debate is over Iran’s enrichment capacity and its annual production.
“When the P5+1 raised concerns about the Arak heavy water reactor in Central Iran, the country announced its readiness to redesign the reactor to decrease the annual plutonium production at the facility from 10 kg to 1kg. In other areas of nuclear work like enrichment too Iran has removed the powers.” Fars News Agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
If this is Iran’s scenario for 2015, by then President Rowhani should have hardliners’ support before striking the final agreement.
Thus far, there have been two extensions which are not necessarily favorable to Iran. However, it highlights the serious approach that each side is taking.
Finalizing a deal
We have seen many hardliners move towards being in favor of finalizing a deal, which shows a level of pragmatism. But keeping up with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s body language is another challenge for the negotiating teams.
Recently, Ayatollah Khamenei showed some disappointment and mocked the negotiators saying: “I am not against the negotiations. Let them negotiate as long as they want!”
Is there a contradiction in this statement? Or is he simply leaving little room to confront the government in case they don’t succeed in striking a good deal.
Perhaps the supreme leader’s disappointment comes from those sanctions which are still in place, some of which were lifted as part of the interim agreement reached in Geneva back in November 2013.
Maybe he is worried that the comprehensive deal will just give the upper hand to Western powers by shattering his country’s comprehensive nuclear program while the sanctions remain in place.
Certainly the supreme leader is not against the talks as Iran’s economy saw some signs of life in 2014 thanks to the JPOA agreement that Iranian negotiators reached with the P5+1. President Rowhani is touting the economic gains that have taken place under his watch. But true economic recovery will be possible only when a permanent agreement is reached and that is obvious to all parties in Iran from hardliners to reformers and moderates.
The Iranian economy will improve, leading to greater opportunities for trade and investment, which will lead to a higher quality of life for all Iranians and political stability if the deal is reached. Inflation in Iran over the last six months has already decreased - a positive indicator of what the economic revival could look like if a deal is reached.
For all of the above reasons, it is Iran’s best interest to maintain momentum towards obtaining a final nuclear deal or there is a better deal for them on the table?
Also another scenario could be realized if Iran fails to reach the nuclear deal. The 45 percent plunge in the price of crude oil, combined with renewed sanctions will cripple the Iranian economy. This could lead to renewed political tension and instability inside Iran, similar to the protests we saw after the 2009 presidential elections.
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
Iran leader airs doubts over U.S. in nuclear talks'Let them talk all they want, but they must negotiate based on reality,' Khamenei says Middle East
Iran says no deal with U.S. to ship enriched uranium to RussiaAn interim accord struck on Nov. 24, 2013, yielded steps by Iran to curb aspects of its sensitive nuclear activity Middle East
Pakistan, India swap lists of nuclear facilities, prisonersThe annual New Year’s Day exchange was established under a 1988 agreement Asia
Iran says new U.S. sanctions violate spirit of nuclear talksIran said the U.S. move contradicted the spirit of the nuclear talks between Iran and the six powers known as 'P5+1' Middle East
Iran foreign minister says nuclear deal ‘within reach’Tehran and the so-called P5+1 group of nations have been locked in talks since February Middle East
First UAE nuclear plant to start in 2017Hammadi said that 61 percent of the first reactor has been completed and it is slated to start production in 2017 Energy
Putin says deal on Iran’s nuclear program ‘very close’Putin said the six world powers and Iran were 'very close' to reaching an agreement Middle East