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

    Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.