Today (or Sunday at the latest), a new era will begin in Iran. At least, that’s the belief of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, which expects that with the submission of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s final report on implementation of the Vienna agreement, most of the economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran for years will be removed.
The report is expected to confirm that Iran has complied with its commitments under the agreement, including the dismantling of some 6,100 of its 19,000 centrifuges (many of which were not operational), the removal of the core at the Arak nuclear reactor and replacing it with concrete, and the removal of most of its stockpile of enriched uranium, which could be used for making bombs.
In return, Iran’s global bank accounts and assets will be unfrozen, and international companies will be permitted to invest and do business there without the fear of U.S. sanctions. In addition, large numbers of Iranians will be removed from the blacklists of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the European Union Economic and Financial Affairs Council. Two-and-a-half years of nerve-racking negotiations led to the nuclear agreement that also ended 36 years of mutual U.S.-Iranian boycotting that began with Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Fears of violations of the nuclear agreement are an integral part of it. But, at least at this time, relations between Iran and the rest of the world are going to change dramatically, and their nature and quality will serve as a guarantee for the agreement’s fulfillment.
Obtaining the agreement was dependent on cautious international diplomacy, which made sure, for example, not to harm Iran’s interests in Syria; to calm Saudi Arabia; to compensate Israel; and to tango with Russia. But its future will be dependent on domestic issues – political developments in Iran and the United States over the next decade, and the personalities of the two countries’ leaders; the strength of the U.S. Congress and the Iranian Parliament; the interests of Iranian businesspeople, clerics and reformists; and the pressure by lobbyists in the United States.
The real launch of the new journey will begin next month. On February 26, two election campaigns – one for parliament, the other for the Assembly of Experts, which, among other things, is responsible for evaluating the performance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (77 this year), and appointing his successor – will clarify how the nuclear agreement is perceived by the public and the leadership, and will pave the political path Iran is expected to take.