After the implementation of Iran’s nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of countries, known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), began on January 16, 2016, sanctions imposed against Iran on account of its nuclear program were removed. The nuclear agreement was a “great achievement” for Iran, and led to the “resolution of an unnecessary problem,” which set a positive precedent for resolving global issues through diplomatic channels. In addition, it raised hope that many other regional issues could be also solved through diplomacy and negotiations.
Removal of sanctions can have many positive effects on the general atmosphere that governs Iran’s foreign policy and foreign trade. As put by President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Rouhani, “Implementation of JCPOA is not against any country; Iran’s friends are happy and rivals must not be concerned.”
Due to my responsibility as the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ambassador to the Russian Federation I think that removal of sanctions will have positive outcomes and give new impetus to Iran’s relations with Russia. The following points are noteworthy in this regard:
Sanctions have had a negative effect on economic exchanges between Iran and Russia over past years and had led to reduction in the two countries’ exchanges. Removal of sanctions, therefore, can provide new ground for further expansion and strengthening of the two countries’ cooperation in various fields.
One of main problems in economic and trade relations is the problem of settling bank accounts and transfer of money. With the removal of Iran sanctions, this problem has been solved and the two countries’ banks can easily work together.
Another problem facing bilateral relations was lack of adequate financial resources to implement agreed projects. Now, as Russia opens lines of credit for Iran and the Islamic Republic’s frozen assets are released, a new opening has come about for financing the projects agreed upon by the two countries.
During past months, dialogue has been going on between the two countries’ presidents to bolster and strengthen bilateral ties. Removal of sanctions can provide vast grounds for the implementation of agreements reached by the two countries’ high-ranking officials.
During years of sanctions, a third factor in the form of the Western countries kept weighing on Iran’s relations with Russia. Under new conditions, the impact of this third factor on the two countries’ relations will diminish.
Reduction in tariffs is a necessity for promotion of trade relations between the two countries. This process has already started and we hope the issue of reducing tariffs will be generalized to all areas which entail bilateral interests for the two countries.
Removal of Iran’s sanctions will not have much of an effect on reduction of global oil prices. The oil price has already fallen to historical lows influenced by other factors. Iran is also at loss due to lowering oil prices and after sanctions are lifted, the country’s return to global oil markets will take place gradually and in a calculated manner.
Bureaucratic red tape is one of the main obstacles on the way of more cooperation between the two countries. Let’s hope that in view of new conditions and through emphasis put by the two presidents on the expansion and strengthening of relations between the two countries, new initiatives would be offered for the reduction of bureaucracy.
Tourism is one of the necessary grounds for cooperation between the two countries. Both countries enjoy vast capacities to attract tourists. In addition to its economic benefits, the issue of tourism is a good ground for increasing mutual understanding of each nation of the other. The changing attitude toward Iran has been effective in increasing the number of tourists visiting the country. If new facilities are considered for visa issuance, visits by Russian people to Iran, as a neighboring country, will become easier than before.
Under new conditions, it is necessary for Russian companies to be present in investment and industrial market of Iran with full force and create an advantage for themselves through participation in financing projects and technology transfer.
Iran and Russia can expand cooperation in order to offer necessary facilities for the import of foodstuff from Iran. Speeding up the process of issuing needed permits for importing dairy products from Iran is a necessary step in this regard.
Iran has been an observer member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for a number of years and is willing to help strengthen this organization. After the removal of sanctions, the way has been paved for Iran’s full membership in this organization.
Iran is willing to bolster economic and banking cooperation with Russia, open a joint account and designate a joint bank for settlement of trade exchanges in the two countries’ national currencies, ruble and Rial. I hope the central bank of Russia would take serious steps in response to Iran’s initiatives.
Expansion of cooperation with China, Russia, and India is an unwavering priority of the current Iranian administration’s foreign policy. During the past two years, constructive dialogue has been underway between the two countries’ presidents. Iran has commended Russia for cooperation with Tehran in all stages of achieving the nuclear agreement and removal of sanctions.
Regional conditions call for more serious cooperation between Iran and Russia in various fields. Under conditions that some regional countries are bent on stoking tensions and exacerbating the existing problems, it is necessary for allied forces to cooperate more closely and more seriously for the establishment of stability and security and fighting terrorism.
Mehdi Sanaei, Iran’s Ambassador to Russia, is the senior fellow at The IRAS Institute.
This article first appeared in Iran Review