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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid