News / Middle East

Limitations of Nuclear Deal Temper Iranians' Enthusiasm

Reuters
It was a flourishing packing business in Iran's historic city of Isfahan, but the last two years of harsh economic sanctions brought the family enterprise to its knees.
 
Owner Gholam Dolatmardian struggled to raise the funds to keep going but finally succumbed to the inevitable, laying off his 100-strong workforce and closing the doors of the once prosperous factory.
 
The prospects for a revival of his business and those of thousands of others may depend on an interim nuclear accord reached between Iran and world powers last week. The deal has allowed those Iranians seeking greater foreign contact and the economic opportunities it brings to see a glimmer of hope for the first time in years.
 
But Iranians' enthusiasm about the accord has been tempered by its complexity and expected gradual implementation, which puts off relief from restrictions on banking, trade and international travel that ordinary Iranians seek most.
 
After a decade-long standoff, Iran has agreed to curb elements of its nuclear activities in exchange for limited relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies, opening the way for a possible broader agreement that could end Iran's long isolation.
 
“I don't know whether the sanctions will be lifted soon, but of course it is my dream to reopen my factory,” Dolatmardian said by phone. “It was a family business and I want my children to continue it.”
 
He inherited the factory from his father, like his father before him. But he closed it in 2011, when sanctions prevented him from obtaining letters of credit or wiring money to European suppliers. He sold off properties to pay his employees before eventually shuttering the 35-year-old factory.
 
Last week's diplomatic breakthrough led him to wonder about restarting the business, but for now he faces the same obstacles of accessing the global banking system.
 
U.S. anti-money laundering legislation is still in place, making it difficult for banks that have any U.S. business to maintain ties with Iran. As a result, Iranian firms will continue to find it difficult to obtain letters of credit or conduct international bank transfers.
 
So while Iranian businessmen may sense a lucrative investment opportunity around the corner, many are still taking a wait-and-see approach.
 
Ahmad Hakimzadeh, who runs an import-export company in the northwestern city of Tabriz, said he has already received calls from Western companies about resuming business relations which they had broken off under pressure from sanctions.
 
He said he cannot make any plans with his foreign partners while financing restrictions remain in place, but he knows there would be demand the moment the curbs are lifted.

Open to the world

Nevertheless, after eight years of growing isolation, the election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani and the nuclear accord are allowing many Iranians to contemplate a future free of such restrictions and the economic challenges they produce.
 
Thousands of Iranians studying abroad are hoping the agreement will help them pay their education bills, buoyed by the deal's promise of $400 million in governmental tuition assistance for students at foreign universities.
 
The Iranian rial, devalued by sanctions, has increased the cost of living abroad more than three-fold since 2011, and curbs on Iranian banks have made it nearly impossible for families to transfer money to pay their children's tuition. Students must often carry thousands of dollars out of Iran.
 
But the deal's vague terminology and slow implementation leave students only to hope that the relief will reach them.
 
“If they allow families to transfer and wire money from Iran, that could be great because we have so many problems with transferring money,” said Misagh Heidari, who is pursuing his master's degree at California State University, Northridge.
 
“But if it's about government tuition assistance, we do have government scholarships but they're so limited,” he said.
 
U.S. Treasury spokesman John Sullivan told Reuters payments would come “from Iran's restricted oil revenue held outside of the country,” without providing detail about their disbursal.
 
Abbas Araqchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, confirmed the size and source of the tuition aid.
 
“It was agreed to pay university and college fees directly for Iranians studying abroad for a period of six months,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA. But it is not clear which students and institutions the measure will benefit.
 
Ahmad, who studies in Belgium, said money earmarked for tuition assistance “does not make any sense to me or my friends. We don't know who is the target group.”
 
Students and others are also hoping the detente between Iran and the West will make it easier to travel internationally. The deal includes no easing on visa restrictions or direct flights, but Iranians expect reintegration into the world community will yield improvements.
 
Mahboubeh Zare's children have not returned to Iran since moving to the United States nearly a decade ago. The 63-year-old from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas said she hopes now it will be easier to see her children.
 
“My son wants to come and visit me this summer,” she said. “This deal is bringing back my children to their homeland.”

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid