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Middle East

Lifting of Iran’s sanctions: not everybody happy.

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Valiollah Seif, governor of Iran's central bank DR

Iran’s central bank said that it will receive 30 billion Euro worth of unfrozen assets after sanctions were lifted under its nuclear deal. The unblocking of funds, which had been held in foreign banks, comes after the UN atomic watchdog confirmed over the weekend that Iran had complied with measures in the July agreement.

“This opens up a whole new era for Iran. What has happened is the beginning of a new era,” said Mehrdad Khonsari is Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Reconstruction and National Reconciliation.

“Nothing will happen in the immediate six months, but as foreign investment starts pouring in and if they are able to retain the current atmosphere then I'm not talking about 30 billion Euro, but maybe ten times that amount in terms of investments in Iran's oil and gas industry, in mining industry, in tourism."

The impact of the lifting of the sanctions will be felt in Europe as well.

“The first impact will be on the supply side,” says Guillaume Xavier Bender, a Transatlantic Fellow for the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

“A number of European countries have already said they would like to get back to Iran. The second impact will be on export towards Iran and investments in Iran. A number of business delegations have already been in Iran this year,” he adds.

On top of that, the European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, announced that an official mission from the European Commission will go to Iran in spring

The mission will see whether Iran complies with a number of conditions  before European companies can invest and export to Iran

Meanwhile, in Israel, the deal caused an outrage. The fact that Iran wants to keep even a watered down version of its nuclear program is viezed with suspicious eyes in Jerusalem.

“It is connected with deterrence,” Ephraim Asculai, a nuclear scientist with the Institute of National Security Studies said.

“You can look and see how Iran is working in the Middle East and you can see that it has hegemonic ambitions and for that it would like to have a good deterrent."

"It is not connected immediately to the economic situation because it began long ago when price of oil was reasonably high. So you cannot connect the economic issue with their ambition.

But in Tehran there’s relief, not least because a certain dependency on China will be lifted.

“China used Iran as a dumping ground for much of its products which destroyed much of Iranian domestic production and industry, especially in the field of textile,”  said. Khonsari.

“Of course they did purchase Iranian oil, but they tried to purchase it at the greatest reduction possible. But now that Iran's options have widened, I think that the preference is to look for new relations and partnerships in Western Europe.”

Next week, the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, will pay a visit to France and Italy.

“It is his first visit to Europe since last summer,” said Bender, adding that a visit had been scheduled to Paris in November, but it was cancelled after the terrorist attacks in Paris that month.

“It is politically symbolic to come to France and Italy, because those two countries were historical partners of Iran before the sanctions got harsher and harsher."

New sanctions that the US imposed on Iran last weekend in retaliation to a test with a long-range ballistic missile won’t stand in the way of positive effects the lifting of the nuclear-related sanctions may have.

“These are very different sanctions. Negotiators on all sides have separated the nuclear sanctions from other sanctions that Iran is facing,” he said.

“They are not overlapping in terms of who or what they are targeting. They are coordinated which is the whole point of the whole mechanism of sanctions."

 

 

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