US, European companies line up to open Iran’s ‘treasure chest’ – expert

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Iran and six world powers are set to meet in Vienna on July 2-15, to try to come up with a comprehensive nuclear agreement by July 20 deadline. The goal is to end the crisis over Tehran’s nuclear programme. So far, the sides have been unable to reach a deal, but experts believe, not only Tehran, but Washington needs this agreement, pretty badly.

Theodore Karasik, Director of research and consultancy at the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis, told Radio VR that for Tehran, the key issue is to lift the sanctions, so that they can get their economy boosted.

“This is more of a political issue that has plagued the talks as well in the past few months,” he said. “Iranians want to have this “regime” of sanctions lifted on them easier and quicker in the short term, so that they can jumpstart their economy, whereas the P5+1, particularly the US, who’s driving this argument, wants to have sanctions kept in place and lifted slowly, over time, as a reward to Iran.”

Theodore Karasik noted that this is critical not only for Iran, but also for the region around them, because of economic ties and development of new businesses.

“This is also key to Europe and also East Asia,” he added, “because there are companies lining up to get into Tehran and in Iran because of the ability to open up this treasure chest.”

He also explained to Radio VR why the US also badly needs the agreement.

“Obama needs a foreign policy win desperately and that is driving him personally to try and find an agreement,” he said. “However, in Washington there is a lot of resentment towards the president because of what is ongoing with Iraq and also a lot of other issues in the Middle East and also, perhaps even we can say, with Ukraine. But still the president needs a win because it looks like he is failing pretty badly.”

He also explained why there is quite a slow progress in the talks.

“There seems to be quite a disagreement between both sides on exactly what Iran could have in terms of its nuclear program. This is focusing on centrifuges and also on Arak nuclear power plant, and some of the ways in which investigation can be conducted to make sure Iran is sticking to the deal.”

Theodore Karasik said that the breakthrough is also possible.

“If it occurs, it may be after the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) comes out with its report, which should be within the next week or two,” he said. “And that’s really going to set the tone for the rest of the talks. If this report comes out in the positive light and shows that the Iranians are able to do they’re claiming to do on the technical side, then that might push for an agreement by the end of July. However, if the IAEA comes out and says a negative comment, then the talks will be going into another round, and the agreement gets extended through the end of the year and possibly into January of 2015.”

He also said that Iran, however, has a “very interesting negotiating strategy”.

“As we know, Tehran has a multitude of different voices that speak on issues and it is part of what we call “the Iranian political universe,” he said. “This universe tends to come out with different policy statements and trial balloons to explain Tehran’s position. This can shift over many days or through a week or even within a few hours, of each other of different groups voicing their concerns. There could be a push to have it delayed from the Iranian side by a particular group of people but that is only because they see it within their interests that a delay may be able to get their point of view across in the talks

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