Rifat Jawaid, London
Representatives from the US, Iran and the EU are meeting in Vienna shortly to announce if Iran has met the conditions set under the nuclear deal signed with P5+1 countries (permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) last year.
Should the International Atomic Energy Agency, the global nuclear watchdog, conclude that Iran has complied with the agreed conditions, the sanctions against the Islamic republic will be lifted allowing it to resume trade with international fraternity.
There is widespread speculation Iran has met the terms of the deal and the lifting of sanctions is imminent.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is likely to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in the Austrian capital later today.
The US State Department said, “All parties have continued making steady progress” towards implementing the deal.”
Quoting sources, the news agency Reuters said that ‘almost all details are ironed out.’
What Iran had to do
As part of the deal signed in July last year, Iran was expected to drastically reduce its number of centrifuges and dismantle a heavy-water reactor near the town of Arak, both of which could be used in creating nuclear weapons.
The July 2015 agreement was seen by many as a foreign policy coup.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had called the deal ‘historic,’ while America’s biggest ally in the middle-east, Israel, had described it a ‘historic mistake.’
What it means for Iran
The lifting of sanctions will, among others, allow to export oil to foreign countries thereby causing the flow of billions of dollars into the country.
Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world and the energy industry is braced for lower prices. Iran will also be able to access more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas.
The years of international sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy and the country would desperately want to improve the status.
According to a report published in BBC, the sanctions are believed to have cost Iran more than $160bn in oil revenue since 2012 alone as it was not allowed to export petroleum products.
Why some are not happy
Among countries and parties who are not happy with sanctions against Iran being lifted are Israel, Republican party in the US and Saudi Arabia.
Israel was never too pleased with the nuclear deal and had called it a ‘historic mistake.’
An Israeli minister, Danny Danon, had said, “This agreement is not just bad for Israel, it’s dangerous for the entire free world. Giving the world’s largest supporter of terrorism a free pass in developing nuclear weapons is like providing a pyromaniac with matches.”
US Republicans felt, and still do, that the deal did not do enough to prevent Iran from developing atomic bomb in future.
Sunni Saudi Arabia, which has had bitter relations with the Shia Iran, is against seeing the latter’s power grow in the region. A strong and economically more powerful Iran, according to many analysts’ is a bad news for Saudi, which has always believed in playing a dominating role in the Mideast politics.
With Russia on its side, Iran is likely to play even more powerful role in the ongoing crisis in Syria, another Shia country in the region.
There’s also concerns among Sunni Gulf countries and Israel that with plenty of funds at its disposal, Iran’s proxy armies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shia militias of Iraq will get a new lease of life. Easing of sanctions means, more cash and guns for these militias.