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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs