The removal of the blockade on the Iranian economy came as a result of international diplomatic efforts and Tehran’s progress in complying with nuclear commitments. The move also confirms that the historic deal entitled “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” officially takes effect six months after its signing. Iran affirmed that the agreement demonstrated stakeholders’ resilient diplomatic spirit in addressing the thorniest issues aiming to seek effective measures to ensure peace, stability and security in the region and around the world. The UN, the US and the EU considered the removal of sanctions a historic success following numerous efforts made by relevant parties, and voiced their hopes that positive outcomes in dealing with the Iranian nuclear issue would solidify belief that tensions and conflicts in the region could be best addressed through diplomacy.
The US lifting sanctions against Iran has helped to considerably ease confrontation in relations between the two countries and handle the decades-old dispute between the two sides in regards to Iran’s assets being frozen in the hostage crisis in 1979. At that time, US President Jimmy Carter decided to freeze US$400 million paid by Iran in advance to buy the US’s weapons before the two nations broke off diplomatic ties. Although incumbent US President Barack Obama reported that the freeze has been lifted along with another US$1.3 billion in interest, the roadmap for realisation of the Iran nuclear deal will not be easy as there remains many puzzling issues for both countries to settle. Right after removing nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, the US imposed new sanctions aimed at the ballistic missile programme of this Muslim country. The ‘stick and carrot’ approach applied by the US towards Iran remains one of the obstacles in relations between the two sides.
When Iran’s bank accounts and foreign assets are no longer blocked, many Iranian organisations and individuals will be lifted from the US and EU’s black lists, and a new wave of investment is expected to pour into Iran and alleviate its ‘thirst’ following years under embargo. A number of countries have voiced their wish to develop trade ties with Tehran. German investors are eagerly seeking positions in this promising market, while Berlin is considering resuming export credit insurance for its companies which are eyeing co-operation with Tehran. The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) predicts that Germany will earn EUR10 billion in export revenues to Iran in the next five years and the Gulf country may possibly make the list of Germany’s top 20 trade partners. In the time the sanctions have still been in place, companies from China, the Republic of Korea and the Middle East promptly took advantage of business opportunities with Iran, fostering hopes to leapfrog a new wind after the Iranian market reopened.
As one of the oil giants in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iran has declared to increase its crude oil outputs by 500,000 barrels per day. Although the black gold market is currently facing increasingly serious redundancy in supply, Tehran is still aspiring to reclaim the lost market share and reiterate its position in the petroleum export market. From over three million barrels per day in 2011, Iran’s exports of crude oil have declined to about one million barrels per day. The Muslim country is looking forwards to exporting 3.4 million barrels per day within the next 12 months, expecting to ship about 200,000 barrels per day to customers in Greece, Spain and Italy, and about 500,000 barrels to Turkey, India and South Africa. Iran said that it has planned to use the billions of US dollars freed up to import essential commodities. Reopening the international payment system is a positive sign for the economy of Iran.
With a population of nearly 80 million, skillful labourers and abundant materials, Iran is considered a ‘sleeping giant’ with huge demands for economic development. Many enterprises from the US, EU, Asia and Middle East are waiting to ‘wake up’ investment opportunities in this potential nation. Therefore, positive signals in realisation of the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group, as well as improvements in relations between Tehran and the West, will not only open the door for Iran to welcome a new wave of investments but also bring stability and security to the region.