End of Sanctions for Iran! – sparks of hope; Part 2

Second part of the interview with Mehrdad Emadi…

“We may well be witnessing a race to return to Iran for trade and investment. Let us not forget that we are speaking of one of 15 wealthiest nations in terms of natural resources, with extremely capable and progressive and forward-thinking people.”


Do you honestly feel these sanctions are fair?

Emadi: It is extremely difficult to see the hardships and the struggles for survival before us that have resulted partly from poor management of the country and partly from the multi-dimensional sanctions and turn a blind eye on them. This is both worrisome and unjust. On the other hand, an uneducated assessment of the situation can potentially pose a security threat for the region and even Europe.


Well, Iran has said that it has no ambitions for nuclear weaponry and has even given limited permission for inspections of its facilities.  What exactly do the Western powers expect from Iran?

Emadi: If Iran had indeed focused on alleviating the concerns of IAEA, many of the issues facing us now, would have been resolved by now. Should IAEA announce in the near future a satisfactory cooperation shown by Iran, I can tell you that over 70% of the sanctions and all major restrictions will be completely lifted in less than one year’s time. The key operative words here are “Transparency” and “multi-dimensional cooperation”. While certain public statements made from time to time, can only further diminish Iran’s strength and create the impression that there’s no unity in Iran’s mission or position. It must be said that the behavior and demeanor during negotiating talks is vital, and it requires formal channels. Let me remind everyone that at this time, more than ever, both sides need to adopt a gentle and peace-making approach.


Have the sanctions against Iran, had adverse effects on the Western economy at all?  Certainly we can’t ignore Iran’s place in the oil/gas market.

Emadi: Yes indeed. They’ve had a huge impact. Naturally the impact has affected certain special divisions of certain industries, as opposed to the western economy as a whole, with the exception of Greece, Malta and Austria. The most significant global impact has been on the price of oil. The $8-$10 p/barrel increase is in my opinion the result of sanctions.

Unfortunately it is not Iran profiting from this increase. It was mostly oil-rich Arab nations, Russia and Venezuela who reaped the profits. An attempt to remove Iran from the global oil market will no doubt be costly and heavily so for certain countries.


Are the western companies unhappy about the sanctions and the resulting difficulties in investing in Iran?

Emadi: Those with a long history of operating in Iran have incurred significant losses which were exacerbated by the current economic down turn in Europe. They are extremely distraught over the fact that the relations that they had spent years and much energy to build and the prominent positions they had established for themselves in Iran, have in a short span of time been substituted by China and India. Naturally they are very unhappy.


Have they expressed their gripes before the European Union?

Emadi: They did up until last year, but now the reality of the need to implement the new sanctions has more or less been accepted by all. That does not mean the grievances have subsided. They’re still there and may even resurface louder than before.


How likely are these grievances to influence the future of new sanctions or possible removal of the existing ones?

Emadi: They used to receive more attention, but as much, in the recent months.


In the event of a failed meeting in Baghdad, would the Iranian people be the only ones to absorb the shock of the new sanctions or would the impact reach Europe as well?

Emadi: I believe that this time the sanctions would hurt the people more than the political leaders – far more! As for Europe however, given the worrisome economies of Greece, Spain and Italy, the heightened sanctions on Iran, would only weaken the chances for the return of economic growth to these countries. The sanctions will be a Lose-Lose deal for both sides, with Iran losing a little more. We must remember that the only winners of these sanctions are those countries who have benefited from the sanctions by establishing a solid place for themselves in Iranian market, selling their sub-standard and low quality products while pressuring Iranian production. Not to mention the small Persian Gulf regional countries who have made a fortune from the sanctions on Iran.


There are reports of positive results from the recent meeting in Istanbul.  What have you heard in this regard?

Emadi: The news of their private meetings has made me more optimistic than I’ve ever been over these past years. Maybe we have reached a focal point in the talks between Iran and the 5+1 group. It may also be due to my dire forecast of the next chapter of the new sanctions.


Have they told you the specifics of the Istanbul meeting?

Emadi: What I’ve heard is that it wasn’t only the tone that had changed; it was rather the general behavior and willingness to take the issues seriously, for the first time. This is an opportunity to untie the old knots. So, it has set precedence for further talks.


There are two theories about the Baghdad meeting.  One scenario being: no resolution reached and status quo..  What direction would the sanctions take?  And how likely do you see the 2 sides to reach a resolution?

Emadi: I don’t think the situation will remain the same, if they don’t reach an agreement. The new sanctions will be decided and enforced in that case. However, I am cautiously optimistic that Iran will take the key offered here, to open the doors. All the balls are in Iran’s court right now. What will happen in Baghdad is directly dependent on Iran’s willingness to further the talks.


What will happen in the case of favorable meeting?

Emadi: Then Baghdad will be open up the first chapter in resolving the conflicts. The details of cooperation with IAEA will be discussed. We must keep in mind that during initial phases, everything is extremely brittle. And there will be outside forces trying to stop the talks from succeeding, so everything rides on Iran’s level of determination to make this work.


Will they lift the sanctions?

Emadi: If the steps taken are solid enough to withstand the difficulties on the road ahead, Yes. It will be difficult but quite possible.Remember, we are attempting to take a Lose-Lose game that’s been played for years and redirect and turn it into a Win-Win game and the process is going to be tedious and trying. But there are pessimists and doomsayers on both sides who have filled the climate of such talks. There are elements who are opposed to the ending of Iran’s sanctions and isolation and presence at international tables amongst key nations of the world. But I can easily see this happening over the next 3-5 years.

If everything goes as planned, the lifting of the sanctions should not take longer than a year, however the return to normal circumstances, meaning a flourishing economy will be part of the problem we have to face. To achieve that goal, certain organizations that have been taken over, must be returned to the private sector. Other nations such as Japan, Germany, Austria and Sweden must be attracted to the idea of reinvesting in Iran. Then over several years, the production units with strong export capacity and credit worthiness must receive tax immunities in order for them to flow into the country, larger sums of currency.

With the help of economic experts or Iran, it is predicted that in 3-4 years time, the country could easily reach an industrial growth rate of over 6% and unemployment reduced by over 1/3 of its current rate; which would be considered a huge leap for Iran’s economy. The process of change will begin gradually during the first months, and in time, with proven transparency and building of trust between the two sides, they will gain momentum.

We may well be witnessing a race to return to Iran for trade and investment. Let us not forget that we are speaking of one of 15 wealthiest nations in terms of natural resources, with extremely capable and progressive and forward-thinking people.


Who is most anxious for the lifting of these sanctions against Iran?  Europeans, Americans, investors, politicians?

Emadi: The most amount of effort spent in trying to free Iran from the sanctions are shown by Western youth, student activists, academics as well as industry executives and then in the next wrung are the moderates and peace advocates among politicians, even those in the military with war experience.


Which political groups are for the lifting of the sanctions and which groups against?

Emadi: The proponents of lifting the sanctions are mostly made up of those countries whose trade relations with Iran have always been highly profitable. And those least enthusiastic about lifting the sanctions are consisted of two completely separate groups: First is the group who has consistently demanded the use of force against Iran, and only joined the sanctions to prove that they are ineffective, mainly because they aspire to strategically dominate the region. The second group is basically worried about Iran’s Inter-continental ballistic missile project and its nuclear program.


Given your own background in an advisory position with Russia’s banking industry, do you see Russia as a benevolent partner for Iran?

Emadi: Russia is an important neighbor for Iran. Russians have been able to achieve nearly all their goals within the Caspian region and through the Boushehr Project and several other sensitive deals, extremely important alliances have been made between us. However, I personally believe that the Russians ideally prefer to see Iran kept in isolation so that it will always remain in need of help from Russia. And as such, they can receive all kinds of bonuses from Iran. This phenomenon is not original with Russia. In certain ways Turkey and UAE are the same. Even in the West, there are tendencies to keep certain key countries of the world in need of the influence of the U.S. or Britain or France.

Looking at economic interests of both countries, we can find a number of differences which with the expansion of Russia’s influence in Iran could seriously harm Iran’s economic growth and energy resources. And Russia has already received certain bonuses from Iran for various projects in recent years. The Boushehr plan and the sale of Missiles are among such projects.However, again this is not specifically a Russian situation. It is the nature of relations between two countries where one becomes excessively dependent on the other.


In terms of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, why are the super powers so opposed to it, when our neighbor Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers?  Why isn’t there any sensationalism about these countries?

Emadi: Because nuclearization of India was not at odds with the West’s security concerns, since it could be used as a line of defense against China. And the Pakistanis’ special connections with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia helped them get a green light from the West, despite India’s concern. In either cases, none of these countries has once threatened the West or spoken of a New World Order, while India peacefully pursues its nuclear projects, next to Brazil, South Africa, South Korea and China.  

While Iran, who unlike these countries, hasn’t even fully reached a nuclear status and to my knowledge there are no signs of the militarization of its nukes, yet it has repeatedly and aggressively threatened the West and its allies. It is not difficult to see why Iran has become the central concern for the world.


Should we expect a miracle in Baghdad?

Emadi: We don’t need a miracle. It is more prudent to not lose hope since we seem to be moving out of the chapter of pessimism and into a new chapter of cooperation. Although taking small and slow steps, but taking steps nonetheless. Even if a miracle happens in Baghdad, it is because of hope for the triumph of wisdom … hope that at the moment of truth, helping hands will reach out to hold one another … hope that the right words will be spoken during these peace talks, quietly, constructively and far away from tensions and chaos.

It is entirely possible and probable for Iran to return to the global market and in less than a decade make awe inspiring quantum leaps in its economic growth that will leave all her neighbors in a bewildered state of wonder and surprise…










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