Signing of nuclear agreement opens door to new economic trade deals
Teheran is seeking more room for development after an interim deal broke the decadelong deadlock on its nuclear issue, observers say.
With the signing of an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program, the country is now seeking new economic opportunities through active diplomacy with major states, according to experts.
A number of senior diplomats and heads of state have booked visits to Teheran since the deal was signed late last month, an indication that the country is keen to capitalize on its partially revived international standing.
Among those heading to Iran is Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who arrived in Teheran on Sunday after a meeting with BRICS senior officials in Cape Town, South Africa.
Days before Yang’s arrival, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Teheran. The capital also received Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is due in Teheran later this week.
On Nov 24, P5+ 1 nations — the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — struck a deal with Iran in Geneva, with Teheran agreeing to freeze part of its nuclear program in exchange for the limited easing of sanctions once a final deal is signed.
The Obama administration on Nov 29 renewed the exemption from sanctions on Iran for a number of economies in Asia and Africa, including China, India and South Korea, citing their continued reductions in purchases of Iranian oil.
Within two weeks of the Geneva deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met with the Syrian prime minister and Turkish foreign minister in Teheran to further cement relations with their allies in the region.
Also, in an attempt to ease tensions with Gulf Arab states, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed-Javad Zarif has spent the past week visiting Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, showing a willingness to seek reconciliation.
Analysts said that Iran’s diplomatic campaign following the deal aims to strengthen ties with the world and exploit various business opportunities to revive its economy.
Ma Hong, a senior researcher at the China Energy Strategic Research Institute at China University of Petroleum, said that energy security in the Middle East is one of China’s major concerns.
“Lifting sanctions on Iran will ease the pressure that Asia-Pacific nations feel over importing crude oil from Iran. Moreover, oil prices might be lowered, with more crude oil flowing into the international market. This is beneficial for China’s oil security,” Ma said.
Dong Manyuan, deputy director of the China Institute of International Studies, said China’s diplomacy in Teheran is aimed initially at ensuring the success of the Geneva deal.
“The main purpose of Yang’s visit is to persuade Teheran to work closely with other countries to carry out the agreed consensus and to keep the resolution of the issue on the right track,” said Dong.
He said that Teheran is actively creating a favorable regional and international environment for its economic recovery through diplomatic means following the interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program.
In his inauguration speech, Rouhani promised constructive interactions with the world, saying that “hostile” relations between Iran and the United States should be corrected to avoid confrontation.
On Sunday, US President Barack Obama said that the interim deal would provide space for a longer-lasting agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but he viewed the likelihood of a satisfactory “end state” as a 50-50 proposition, and repeated that all options remained on the table if Iran did not follow through with its obligations.
According to Dong, Iran’s recent diplomatic campaign has demonstrated to the world that it plans to stick to the terms of the deal on its nuclear program.
“In return, Teheran hopes that Washington can lift its sanctions as promised, which will create business opportunities worth billions of dollars,” Dong said.
“Developing better bilateral ties with regional countries and other powers also facilitates Teheran’s efforts to improve its relationship with Washington,” he added.
Iran has already taken steps in rebuilding ties with Britain after severing diplomatic ties with the country two years ago. In November, Iran and Britain announced that each would appoint a non-resident charge d’affaires to the other country.
Sadeq Zibakalam, a professor of politics at Tehran University, said the Geneva deal has ushered in a new era for Iran of diplomatic relations with the world, especially the West.
“The world needs Iran to solve problems in the Middle East. Iran’s support and cooperation is needed for any possible solution,” Zibakalam said.