The foreign minister of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Sunday that he doubts that at upcoming round of talks between Tehran and world powers, scheduled to resume next week in Vienna, a final deal on the nuclear issue will be reached.
The economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the West over the last two years had hard economic repercussion on the economy, causing the inflation to skyrocket to 45 percent and resulting in a number of staple goods to get more and more expensive.
International sanctions mostly targeted Iran’s oil assets and isolated its banking system and hindered the country’s ability to trade internationally, causing the Iranian currency to lose 80 percent of its value.
Many in Tehran, especially the mercantile class that once represented the lifeblood of Iran’s economic activity, are eager to see the new president, Mr. Assan Rouhani, unleash a revival of commerce and relations with the world.
Mr. Rouhani was elected last year in August and is believed to hold more moderate views than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The election of Rouhani allowed Iran to set the country on a more conciliatory course with the West.
Last November in Geneva, Iran was able to hammer-out a preliminary deal with the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany in which the country agreed to cap its Uranium enrichment program in return for an easing of sanctions.
At the upcoming meeting in Vienna the US and the other powers hope to cement a permanent agreement on the nuclear issue with Iran that would lead to a further reduction of sanctions. However, Zarif’s announcement that he does not expect a final deal to be reached during the talks in Vienna poses doubts about Tehran’s intention to keep up with the good work.
In January, Rouhani was in Davos, Switzerland, to attend the Economic Summit and met with the world’s business elites. He promoted commercial relation with his country and also talked with European representatives about the opportunity to export oil and reiterated his intention to reach a permanent agreement that could eventually lift sanctions for good.
While Rouhani’s desire to engage in talks and to strike constructive deals with the West seems genuine, ABC News reports today that many hardliners in Iran, including 200 lawmakers, believe that Tehran should not concede too much to the West and should demand the rights to enrich Uranium under the U.N. Proliferation Treaty.
In particular Iranian lawmakers have urged the delegation that will meet the world powers not to accept deals that put into question the country’s right to keep its military and missile programs, which the West believes are connected to its nuclear program.
However, as noted by an article on the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the issue of ballistic missiles and the military dimension of Iran nuclear program are crucial aspects that should be contemplated by any comprehensive deal.
The fact that Iran’s foreign minister poses doubts about the possibility of a final deal during the upcoming talks to begin in Vienna next week is perhaps an indication that it might take longer for a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Tehran and other world powers to be reached.
By Stefano Salustri