During negotiations leading up to the JCPoA, Tehran resisted the US’s efforts to include issues such as terrorism, missiles and human rights to the nuclear issue. The Americans thought that they could use the JCPoA as a bargaining chip to get some more concessions out of Tehran concerning these other issues but were unsuccessful at achieving this goal. The JCPoA was subsequently signed and nuclear-related sanctions were lifted once the JCPoA was implemented and everyone made a big deal about how the Iranians had craftily forced the US into a corner in order to sign the deal.
As the sanctions were lifted, the euphoria in Iran was buoyed by the stream of foreign trade delegations (over 400 in less than three years) and the prospects of cashing in on the deal. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei quickly banned over 400 US brands from Iran and made a point of banning any form of negotiations with the US and justifying the calls of “Death to America” and it looked as if Tehran had won the upper hand.
Unfortunately, the US’s continuing sanctions on missiles, terrorism and human rights in Iran has caused most big international banks to wait wearily on the sidelines of Iran’s economy and without the banks, the lifting of the sanctions seems impotent. Khamenei is now thoroughly frustrated claiming that “we haven’t seen anything tangible from these delegations visiting Iran…we are expecting to see some real improvements. Promises on paper have no value” and is now openly criticizing President Hassan Rouhani for “magnifying the disadvantages and losses caused by sanctions“.
Caught in a trap
Khamenei is now pushing for a “Resistance Economy” which will not be dependent on foreign investments and foreign trade and Rouhani is now up against the wall. If the remaining sanctions aren’t lifted soon, the whole promise of the JCPoA will dwindle down to the money freed from the lifted nuclear-related sanctions.
But in the meantime, Tehran continues to carry out more missile tests which are answered with more missile-related sanctions, continues to openly support terrorist organizations thereby receiving more terrorism-related sanctions and is in complete denial over the problems of human rights in Iran. The US, which seemed to have given away the whole store to the Iranians is virtually holding the only key to the locked door and Tehran will have to decide within the very near future whether it is willing to renegotiate some kind of deal which would free up any banking restrictions.
What makes matters worse is the fact that it has become nearly impossible to manage closed economy which is open as well in a world where all economies are globally interconnected.
That may be why Khamenei is looking towards Asia for international trade as he clearly stated thatIran’s “definite policy is based on cooperation with Asian countries“.
A dead end
Of course, it may be in the US’s long-term interests to free up the banking systems in order to give Rouhani and his so-called moderate government some economical and political leeway. The problem is that apart from the White House, no one in Washington actually wants to help Iran or Rouhani because they are still upset over. Perhaps the US would be willing to ease up on some sanctions if Iran would ease up on its missile tests and its support of terrorist organizations and would be open for some real changes in human rights but the chances of that happening now are dwindling fast.
In the same manner, Rouhani’s government has repeatedly stated that Iranian emigrants and exiles would be welcomed in Iran in an effort to project a more open and moderate Iran. But in reality, there are too many cases in which Iranian exiles are arrested on visiting their homeland for exactly the reasons why they ran away in the first place. These nigthmarish stories of Westernized Iranians being sent to jail is creating major problems in wooing Iranians living in the West to move to Iran. Instead, they too, like the banks, would rather wait on the sidelines to see how things turn out.
No, this looks like another dead-end which will leave the extremists telling the moderates on both sides “I told you so”.