ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/J.Post/Framework deal opens floodgates for investment in Iran


Framework deal opens floodgates for investment in Iran
ARIEL BEN SOLOMON/J.Post/04/17/2015

The framework nuclear agreement Iran and world powers signed this month has opened the floodgates toward an end of sanctions and to new business deals. In the past week, Russia moved quickly to renew a contract to deliver the S-300 missile defense system to Tehran, and China agreed to build nuclear plants in the country. And Austrian President Heinz Fischer may take a business delegation there later this year. “With the progress of the Iranian nuclear track – and that is obviously positive – we do not see any reason to continue to keep the ban [on the delivery of the S-300] unilaterally,” Putin said in his annual marathon call-in show with Russians on Thursday.

Speaking at a Moscow security conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the preliminary deal meant Iran’s “vicious” international isolation should come to an end. Meanwhile, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, announced on Tuesday that China would soon start building nuclear plants in the country, coming after a previous agreement with the Russians to construct two. And the Austrian president told the Wiener Zeitung, in an interview published on Thursday, “Now that a framework agreement with Iran exists, a trip in the second half of 2015 has become likely. “The first step is awaiting a final result of the negotiations. Then we will set a date, and only then will the composition of the delegation be an issue,” Fischer said.

No Western head of state visited Iran during the two terms of President Hassan Rouhani’s predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This spurt of activity signals that several countries are trying to get a head start on what they expect to be a flood of transactions with the Shi’ite state once a final agreement is reached. But this also shows that a final nuclear deal may not be necessary for the sanctions regime to unravel. “Once Iran begins to get significant sanctions relief, and billions of dollars and scores of European and other companies move back into Iran, the snap-back sanctions will run into a wall of Russian and Chinese intransigence at the UN and market-drive human greed,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Thursday.

“Iran has already benefited from significant direct and indirect sanctions relief which helped the supreme leader avoid economic collapse in 2013,” continued Dubowitz, adding that Iran’s fragile economic recovery would only improve after a final agreement.

 “This positions Iran well to immunize itself against future economic pressure,” he added. Asked about the chances for a final deal, Dubowitz responded that one is “more likely than not,” because the Obama administration’s behavior indicates that it “will find a way to accommodate the supreme leader’s redlines on both sanctions relief and access to Iranian military bases. “As the US loses economic leverage to enforce a deeply flawed nuclear deal, a future president will be left with only two choices in response to Iranian cheating: military action, which is unlikely in the face of Iranian incremental cheating, or surrender,” he said.
**Reuters contributed to this report.