News / Middle East

Sanctions Crucial Issue in Iran Talks

FILE - Iranians hold posters of President Hassan Rouhani, while welcoming Iranian nuclear negotiators upon their arrival from Geneva at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran Nov. 24, 2013.
FILE - Iranians hold posters of President Hassan Rouhani, while welcoming Iranian nuclear negotiators upon their arrival from Geneva at Mehrabad Airport in Tehran Nov. 24, 2013.
Sanctions relief for Iran is the linchpin of the Islamic Republic’s motivation for cooperation with world powers in their efforts to curb elements of Iran’s nuclear activities.

The recent interim accord hammered out in Geneva freezes for six months Iran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, negotiators will continue diplomatic talks aimed at a comprehensive plan to ensure that Tehran’s nuclear program will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.

In exchange, Iran received what experts consider to be modest relief from international economic and financial sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

Iran offers concessions

Joel Rubin, an expert on Iran with the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, said the interim agreement contains significant concessions from Iran that will be closely watched by world powers who will be careful in the easing of sanctions.

“To eliminate the 20 percent enriched uranium fuel - that stockpile will be gone. Second, to stop construction at the plutonium facility Arak - that will now be halted,” Rubin said.

“And then third, to increase inspections of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure to the point where there will be daily inspections - so we will be able to see really what’s in their possession and get a better feel for what constraints need to be put on it," he said. "So those are the three core wins for the West.”

As talks lingered for years, the U.N. Security Council, along with the United States and the European Union, imposed sanctions to pressure Iran to end its uranium enrichment program, which can be used for civilian or military purposes.

Tehran says it is not developing nuclear weapons, but the United States and the European Union believe otherwise.

Iran hard hit

Gary Hufbauer, an expert on sanctions with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said such measures have reduced Iran’s petroleum exports by about 50 percent.

“In addition, the sanctions cut off financial transactions between a great many Iranian banks and the rest of the world," he said. "Those banks are not permitted to do financial transactions through the ‘SWIFT’ system, which is an interbank mechanism for financial transactions based in Brussels."

"So that’s a big handicap, because if you can’t do financial transactions, it’s pretty hard to buy and sell goods,” Hufbauer said.

As a result of those sanctions, inflation and unemployment have increased substantially, while the value of Iran's currency - the rial - has plummeted.

Experts say a key political event several months ago was the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president - a man who favors engagement with the West and who ran a campaign based on restoring the country’s economy.

Hufbauer believes Western sanctions played a role in the outcome.

“I give sanctions credit for the election of Rouhani," he said. "And then I give the sanctions further credit for the fact that he went to the negotiating table - and we have this interim agreement.”

“Does it solve all the problems?" he asked. "Absolutely not, but it’s the first substantial agreement we could say in 20 years. It is quite remarkable. So yes, the sanctions have moved the diplomatic dialogue forward quite a bit.”

Accord eases some sanctions

Hufbauer said the interim agreement provides the lifting for six months of some sanctions if Iran abides by the terms of the accord.

“Iran will have released to it four and a half billion dollars of money that was frozen before," he said. "So it has four and a half billion dollars more than it had yesterday as soon as it performs its side of the bargain.”

“There will be a permission to repair Iranian aircraft for safety reasons - just for safety reasons, safety repairs," Hufbauer said. "There will be permission for non-U.S. companies to engage in the automobile industry, to sell autos and to engage in the industry in Iran.”


Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More