United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

House Foreign Affairs Committee: Verification Needed in Nuke Deal

On April 22, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing focused on verification measures in a potential nuclear deal with Iran. Chairman Ed Royce argued that “the issue of inspections and verification will be central to how Congress judges any final agreement.” In his testimony, David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International security, noted that Iran has generally complied with the terms of the interim nuclear agreement. But “its record remains problematic” on issues like clarifying the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

The following are excerpts from Chairman Royce’s opening statement and testimony from expert witnesses.

Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman
“In announcing its outlines, President Obama declared that this agreement is ‘based on unprecedented verification.’ However, all of the essential elements of this inspection regime still need to be negotiated.
The ink wasn’t even dry on this month’s announcement…when he asserted that Tehran wouldn’t allow international inspectors access to its military facilities. And this weekend, the Deputy Head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps reiterated, “They will not even be permitted to inspect the most normal military site in their dreams.”
“The Administration has shrugged off such comments as Iranian domestic spin. But the issue of inspections and verification will be central to how Congress judges any final agreement. Will inspectors have quick, unimpeded, go-anywhere, anytime access? Who can they interview; what documents can they review; can they take environmental samples? Does the IAEA have the qualified manpower and resources to take this on? Can the framework’s ‘limited’ centrifuge research and development restriction really be verified?
Iran’s long history of clandestine activity and intransigence prevents the U.S. from holding any trust whatsoever in Iran. Indeed, deception has been a cornerstone of Iran’s nuclear program since its inception. So when it comes to negotiating an inspections regime over the next two months, the U.S. must gain ground, not retreat.”
“As one witness will testify, international inspectors can be no tougher than the countries that back them. The history of arms-control inspections is that they are easy for political leaders to tout as a solution, but are difficult to fully implement. What looks good on the white board often fails in the real world.
Even if verified, as one witness will note, this agreement still puts Iran on the path to being an accepted nuclear weapons threshold state. And beginning in ten years, the Administration’s lauded one-year break-out period begins to fall away and Iran will be able to enrich on an industrial scale. At the same time, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is advancing its ballistic missile capability – under orders from the Supreme Leader to ‘mass produce.’ “
Mr. David Albright
Founder and President, Institute for Science and International Security
“Adequate verification is critical to a long-term deal in terms of verifying activities at declared nuclear sites and more importantly ensuring the absence of undeclared nuclear material and facilities. Although the interim deal under the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) strengthened the monitoring of declared sites, it did little to increase the IAEA’s ability to detect and find covert sites and activities. Inspectors have regularly reported in quarterly safeguards reports on Iran that the IAEA is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is used for peaceful activities.
Whether this situation changes will largely depend on the ability of the United States and its partners to create a comprehensive plan that establishes legally binding conditions on Iran that go beyond those in the comprehensive safeguards agreement and the Additional Protocol. A critical question will be whether the agreement establishes a verification regime adequate to promptly catch Iranian cheating. The U.S. Fact Sheet and subsequent briefings I received on the parameters of a comprehensive plan show that a considerable amount of work remains in the area of verification.
Recent Iranian statements disagreeing with verification provisions in the U.S. Fact Sheet raise the question of whether the U.S. negotiators have tried to oversell what has been agreed to. Iran’s public disagreements with the text could reflect also spin for domestic consumption, but more concerning, they could be attempts to create a predicate to renegotiate certain key parameters agreed to in Lausanne. U.S. officials have stated that everything in the U.S. Fact Sheet was agreed “in the room,” meaning that Iran agreed to all these parameters during the negotiations in Lausanne. If one assumes that the U.S. version is accurate, the U.S. Fact Sheet combined with briefings from officials shows that key verification arrangements remain unresolved, particularly those related to PMD issues and those that supplement the Additional Protocol. In fact, there are enough verification provisions unsettled that we at my organization cannot make a judgment about their adequacy without further progress in the negotiations.”
“Iran has in general been in compliance with the conditions of the JPA. However, it enriched in the IR-5 centrifuge, an act inconsistent with its JPA undertakings. When confronted by the United States, Iran quickly backed down and even took additional steps to increase confidence that enrichment in this centrifuge would not happen again. However, Iran has not shown a willingness to back down on more fundamental issues, such as resolving the IAEA’s PMD concerns, halting its illicit nuclear procurements, and fully cooperating with the IAEA. On less important issues, Iran is more cooperative but on the difficult ones, its record remains problematic.”
Mr. Charles Duelfer
Chairman, Omnis, Inc. and Former Chairman, UN Special Commission on Iraq [UNSCOM]
“I simply want to draw attention to the intricacies and the vulnerabilities of inspection systems. Too often in my experience, they served as a balancing entry for things the Security Council itself could not agree. In the event, the inspectors were subject to enormous political pressures. Indeed, the leadership positions of the inspector organization became politically sensitive. I can imagine the political machinations that will occur when current IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s term expires in 2017.
Overall, I cannot imagine the circumstances in Iran playing out favorably for the inspection system. And I repeat, Tehran will have watched and learned from the Iraq experience.
From what has been revealed publicly, it does not seem that inspectors will have any more authority or access than the inspectors in Iraq. Indeed, they will have far less it seems.
Moreover, the power behind the inspectors is greatly reduced since sanctions remain OFF unless the inspectors report something negative. And, what will constitute a sufficiently negative report? Delayed access? Ambiguous data? Once commerce is flowing, it is generally understood, it will be very difficult to stop. Saddam knew this and worked this successfully through illicit trade. In the Iran case it will not even be illicit.
Further, unity in the Security Council is highly questionable. Moreover, I cannot imagine the Security Council delegating its decision authority to re-impose sanctions to the head of the IAEA. That would certainly make the position much more political. Any “snap-back” provision, while desirable in principle, may not be achievable in practice.”
“In the case of Iraq, it turned out that after 8 years of inspections Saddam had largely rid himself of militarily significant WMD capability. He did this to get out of sanctions. Often overlooked was that Saddam also acknowledged that he intended to reconstitute these programs when circumstances permitted, i.e. after he was free from sanctions. Saddam played a long game. That’s not something we are good at. We have a regular cycle of changing our leadership. Continuity between our leaders is inconsistent—indeed it is often challenged. Not so for regimes like Saddam’s in Iraq and the Supreme Leader in Iran.”
The Honorable Stephen G. Rademaker
National Security Advisor, Bipartisan Policy Center; and Former Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control & Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
“This deal will represent acceptance by the international community of Iran as a nuclear weapons threshold state.
By “nuclear weapons threshold state,” I do not mean that we’re accepting that Iran will have nuclear weapons, but we are accepting that, after ten years or so, Iran will have the ability to produce nuclear weapons in very short order, within a matter of weeks, or perhaps even days. This is important because countries that are able to produce nuclear weapons virtually overnight have to be treated by the rest of the world as if they already have nuclear weapons, because at any given moment, no one knows for sure that they don’t. Such countries may not have nuclear weapons today, but they are so close to having them that they nevertheless are able to engage in nuclear intimidation of others. Consequently, those who feel intimidated will be sorely tempted to develop nuclear options of their own, potentially giving rise to the very cascade of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East that experts have long predicted would occur if Iran’s nuclear ambitions were not restrained.
And by “accepting,” I mean that the United States is abandoning the policy pursued for more than twenty years by the Clinton, Bush, and, until now, Obama Administrations, to make sure Iran neither had nuclear weapons nor was on the threshold of producing them. We are committing to drop our nuclear-related sanctions, accept the legitimacy of the nuclear program that is affording Iran this capability, and even to support future international transfers of equipment and technology to that program.”
Click here for the full statements


UN: Iran Complying with Interim Nuke Deal

On April 20, the U.N. nuclear watchdog reported that Iran has continued to meet its commitments under the interim nuclear agreement with the world’s six major powers. The report found that Iran was not enriching uranium above the five percent level or making "any further advances" at its enrichment facilities and heavy water reactor.

But the nuclear watchdog also noted on April 16 that Tehran has not fully addressed outstanding issues on its program related to activities that could be used to create an atomic device, such as alleged experiments on explosives, despite a "constructive exchange."

The following are some of the report’s key findings.

Since January 20, 2014, Iran has:

  • Not enriched uranium above the five percent level at its declared facilities
  • Diluted 108.4kg of its 20 percent enriched uranium down to the five percent level
  • Not made “any further advances” in its activities at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant or Arak reactor
  • Began converting 2720kg of five percent enriched uranium into uranium oxide
  • Continued to provide daily access to enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow
  • Provided regular access to centrifuge assembly workshops and centrifuge rotor production workshops and storage facilities
  • Provided, for purposes of enhanced monitoring, plans for nuclear facilities, descriptions of their operations, and information on uranium mines and mills
Click here for the full report

Iran and Afghanistan Strengthen Ties

On April 19, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Tehran for a two-day visit with Iranian officials, his first since taking office in September. He was accompanied by six other Afghan officials, including Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and National Security Advisor Muhammad Hanif Atmar. Ghani met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani during his visit, and signed two agreements to increase cooperation in countering terrorism and drug trafficking. The following are excerpted remarks from Afghan and Iranian officials during Ghani’s visit.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
“In addition to its rich human and cultural resources, Afghanistan also enjoys abundant natural resources. These potentialities and commonalities should all serve to upgrade cooperation between the two countries.” 
 “Of course, the Americans and some countries in the region are unaware of the potentialities of Afghanistan and do not favor rapport and cooperation between the two countries either, but Iran regards the security and progress of its neighbor, Afghanistan, as its own security and progress.”
“Issues between the two countries, including ‘immigrants, water, transportation and security’ are all resolvable and everyone should deal with and settle these issues seriously and within the framework of a timeframe.” 
—April 19, 2015, in a meeting with President Ghani
President Hassan Rouhani
"We need intelligence sharing and, if necessary, cooperation in operations because the problems that exist are not restricted and gradually spread throughout the region, affecting everyone."
—April 19, 2015, at a press conference with President Ghani
“We are very happy to witness unity and fraternity in Afghanistan and such a national integration is necessary for public development and welfare. Mutual confidence of people and government is the highest national asset and its result is stability, security and subsequently development which are both in favor of Afghan people and regional nations.”
“Both countries want establishment of peace and stability in the entire region, believing that in regional countries, including Yemen, problems cannot be settled through military means. Using planes and bombardment will not be effective, rather, in any country, people and political groups should remove their own problems through national dialogue and other governments and neighbors should prepare the ground for holding the dialogue.”
—April 19, 2015, in a meeting with Afghan officials
President Ashraf Ghani
“People die daily, we face barbarism…and without greater cooperation a macabre phenomenon such as Daesh cannot be contained.”
—April 19, 2015, at a press conference with President Rouhani
"Relations between Iran and Afghanistan are historical and long-lasting and have various dimensions.”
"Today, we are facing the serious threat posed by various forms of terrorism…However, the Afghan nation's determination (to stand up against terrorism) is strong.”
—April 19, 2015, at a press conference with President Rouhani
"Our objective is [to see] Afghanistan become a communications hub in the region and regain its former status as the linking intersection in the region."
"Our political will is based on expanding bilateral ties and we have to make efforts to boost common and positive points between the two countries."
"The issues between the two countries should be resolved based on the political will of both governments and based on a timeframe set during this visit.”
"None of our neighbors has been as serious as Iran with regard to the threat of narcotics and no country has fought it like Iran, and we are ready to combat this scourge with the help of Iran.”
"Under your [Khamenei’s] wise leadership, Iran has stabilized its historic identity and we hope that under the aegis of this wise leadership, we will witness closer cooperation between the two countries."
—April 20, 2015, in a meeting with Iranian officials


Debate on Nuclear Deal: Former US & Iranian Officials

Iran and the world’s six major powers now face a June 30 deadline for converting a blueprint into a final nuclear deal. Conflicting interpretations of terms in the proposed framework that was announced on April 2 have crystallized in recent weeks. Washington and Tehran seem to have differing views on sanctions relief, inspections of nuclear sites and research and development. With talks resuming this week, negotiators from the seven nations face three months of potentially tough talks to work out their differences.

On April 20, a unique panel of former U.S. and Iranian officials assessed the status of the talks and the political dynamics that will determine the fate of any agreement in Washington and Tehran. The following are the main points of the discussion at USIP led by former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who serves as the chairman of the Institute's board. It was the fourth Iran Forum event hosted by an unprecedented coalition of eight Washington think tanks —USIP, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the RAND Corporation, the Arms Control Association, the Center for a New American Security, the Stimson Center, Partnership for a Secure America, and the Ploughshares Fund.

Ali-Akbar Mousavi
Former member of Iran's parliament (2000-2004)
Visiting Fellow at Virginia Tech & Human Rights Advocate
  • Iran and the world’s six major powers are close to a historic achievement that could solve a major international crisis peacefully.
  • In Iran, the Rouhani administration, Parliament, the Supreme Leader and the vast majority of citizens have reached a consensus that they want a nuclear agreement. Such a consensus, however, does not exist in the U.S.
  • If negotiations are extended for six months or longer, Iranian domestic politics could interfere. Iran has two major elections in February 2016, one for Parliament and one for the Assembly of Experts.
  • For the first time, the Supreme Leader has mentioned that Iran could discuss other issues with the international community if a nuclear deal is successfully implemented. Regional issues related to ISIS, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan would probably be the first topics of talks.
  • The U.S. and Iran could eventually normalize relations if a nuclear deal is brokered. In the future, Washington may even be able to discuss human rights with Tehran.
  • Iran cooperated closely with the U.S. on overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the U.S. lost an opportunity for further engagement when President George W. Bush said Iran was part of an “axis of evil.”
  • Both the U.S. and Iran lack understanding of each other’s politics and culture. More dialogue is needed.
Jim Slattery 
Former Congressman (D-KS, 1983-1995), Recently Visited Iran 
Partner, Wiley Rein LLP
  • The U.S. and Iran have reached an historic moment; the great tragedy is that domestic political forces may prevent a breakthrough.
  • During a visit to Tehran in December, many people had the same question: can President Obama implement a deal?
  • The political futures of some Iranian leaders depend on getting a deal with the U.S. Their worst nightmare is that, after going out on a limb, Congress may scuttle any accord.
  • An agreement hinges on verification because neither side trusts the other. The Supreme Leader’s statements about denying inspectors access to military sites are troubling.  Overall, however, the plan for a deal shows that Iran has made significant concessions. 
  • Based on 10 years of interaction with Iranian businesspeople, religious leaders and politicians, it’s clear that Iran wants to reset relations with the U.S., with some limitations.
  • Solving the nuclear dispute could create a platform for the U.S. and Iran to discuss common interests, like defeating the so-called Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
  • Iran is a regional superpower in terms of energy and people. Its population of 80 million is nearly three times that of Saudi Arabia or Iraq. It has the world’s fourth-largest amount of proven oil reserves and second-largest natural gas reserves. Its literacy rate is about 90 percent for those under age 45, 60 percent of its university students are female, and the median age of its citizens is 28. 
  • Washington needs to make sure its allies in the region know a nuclear deal will not diminish U.S. support for them. Tremendous diplomatic efforts will be required to reassure them.
Michael Singh 
Former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council (2005-2008)
Senior Fellow, The Washington Institute 
  • Questions surrounding the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program need to be answered upfront. Those answers are critical for designing a sufficient verification regime.
  • The issue of Iran’s missile development should have been included in the talks, because it is linked to the nuclear issue.
  • The U.S. should carefully examine its alternatives if a deal is not reached.
  • Washington should also focus on ensuring that Tehran’s alternatives are worse than making a deal, as an incentive for Iran to accept terms that are better for U.S. interests.
  • Iran cannot afford to negotiate for another six months. But the U.S. has leeway for six months or even a year.
  • The design for the agreement seems to be conceptually flawed in several ways. First, it will likely require future presidents to waive sanctions every six months, and some of the hardest decisions have been left for the future.
  • Second, the deal does not require Iran to dismantle anything. Its nuclear program essentially remains intact. Even if a deal leads to positive changes in Iran’s regional strategy, its neighbors may still view its nuclear program as a threat.
  • Even if sanctions unrelated to the nuclear issue remain in place, lifting other sanctions reduces pressure on Tehran to negotiate on other issues.
  • Sanctions relief means that Iran will have more revenue to pursue regional activities that the U.S. is concerned about.
  • Sanctions are blunt instruments. But without them, the U.S. would have fewer tools for deterring Iran, making direct intervention by the U.S. in regional conflicts more likely.
  • Iranian and U.S. interests diverge on many issues, so a huge breakthrough in relations after a deal is unlikely.
Howard Berman 
Former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (D-CA, 1983-2013)
Senior Advisor, Covington & Burling LLP 
  • Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s statements in recent days about sanctions relief and not granting inspectors access to military sites suggest he is thinking about an agreement very different from one that the world’s six major powers could sign.
  • Tension exists between elements of the Revolutionary Guards and hardliners, on the one hand, and President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on the other. So a lot depends on the Supreme Leader’s position.
  • At first, Congress instinctively opposed a deal with Iran, especially one that would not dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.  The agreement worked out between Senator Bob Corker, Senator Benjamin Cardin and the White House, however, has changed the political equation in Washington.
  • The new legislation, which is awaiting final congressional approval, would forestall any further action related to a nuclear agreement with Iran until a deal  is finalized. In the event Congress votes to prevent implementation, two-thirds of both houses would be needed to override the president’s veto.
  • A key question for Congress will be, is this deal the least-worst option? If one third of the Senate and one third of the House of Representatives think so, then the deal would go into effect.
  • The sanctions effort that brought the international community together was about Iran’s nuclear program. Bringing other issues into these talks could risk losing the support of the international community.
  • A nuclear deal might create concern among U.S. allies, including Israel and the Gulf countries, which believe Iran has hegemonic interests.
To assess this period of pivotal diplomacy, the coalition of eight Washington policy organizations has previously hosted three other discussions.



Economic Trends: March and April

Cameron Glenn

The most significant development in March and April was the nuclear framework announced on April 2 by Iran and the world’s six major powers. They now face a June 30 deadline for converting a blueprint into a final nuclear deal. International investors have begun eyeing Iran in anticipation of sanctions relief. Oil executives in Europe and Asia held preliminary discussions with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh to discuss investments in a post-sanctions environment. The announcement even impacted oil prices, which dropped four percent on April 2.
Iran witnessed modest economic improvement by the close of the Iranian calendar year on March 20. Annual inflation decreased to 15.6 percent, and youth unemployment is projected to decrease by about one percent by mid-2015. In a new report, the International Monetary Fund predicted slight growth in Iran’s economy in 2016, though its estimates had been revised down from 2014 projections due to low oil prices.
The following is a run-down of the top economic stories with links.
Domestic Developments
Growth: The International Monetary Fund projected that Iran’s economy will grow 0.6 percent in 2015 and 1.3 percent in 2016. The figures are lower than the October 2014 projections, due to the impact of low oil prices. Iran’s economy grew 2.8 percent between the third quarter of the last Iranian fiscal year and the year before, but the growth was too slow to significantly reduce unemployment and mitigate other effects of international sanctions. "If we have a successful conclusion to [the nuclear] negotiations, we would see more of a positive impact in terms of higher growth, lower inflation, and lower unemployment," said Valiollah Seif, governor of the Central Bank of Iran.



Taxes: Iran’s tax income rose 49 percent in the first 11 months of the Iranian calendar year compared to the same period last year. Iran’s Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Ali Tayyebnia said Tehran intends to reduce its dependence on oil by improving the tax system.
Oil: Oil prices fell four percent on April 2, as Iran and the world’s six major powers announced a nuclear framework that could lift sanctions on Iran’s oil industry, though they rebounded slightly the next day. Even before the announcement, Iranian officials began discussing plans to increase oil production. In March, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh claimed that Iran could ramp up its oil production to pre-sanctions levels “within months” of sanctions being lifted, increasing output by one million barrels per day.
Some energy analysts, however, are more cautious. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated that Iran holds 30 million barrels of crude oil in storage, and could increase crude oil production by 700,000 barrels per day by the end of 2016, if sanctions are lifted. But Iran would require new investments and greater production capacity to significantly increase output beyond that.
Zanganeh also called upon the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce oil production by five percent to offset new Iranian oil on the market and prevent a further drop in oil prices. "We expect the members of OPEC to pave the ground for (an) increase of Iran's oil production that will reach global markets when sanctions are lifted," Zanganeh said in a meeting with the Venezuelan oil minister in Tehran.


Gas: Managing Director of the National Iranian Gas Company Hamid-Reza Araqi said that Iran exported eight percent more natural gas in the last year compared to the year before, an increase of one billion cubic meters. Araqi also announced that Iran will begin exporting natural gas to Iraq in late May, and will explore the possibility of exporting gas to Kuwait in the future. In April, Zanganeh announced that Iran plans to increase gas production to 200 million cubic meters per day by April 2016. “This is what we planned by assuming that the sanctions will remain in place,” he said. “If the sanctions are removed, things will proceed much faster.”



Inflation: The inflation rate dropped to 15.6 percent by the end of the Iranian year, down from more than 40 percent two years ago, according to the Central Bank of Iran. In response, Iranian banks announced they will cut lending rates by at least two percent. Akbar Komeijani, a deputy governor for the Central Bank of Iran, said “the rates need to be lowered in pace with the drops in the inflation rates so there would be a better balance between developments in the national economy and the return of investments in various markets.”
Unemployment: Iran’s youth unemployment rate is expected to drop from 25.7 percent to 24.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015, according to Trading Economics.
Banks: Iranian bank lending to businesses increased significantly in the past year. Lending spiked by 35 percent, and businesses borrowed $94.2 billion between March 2014 and March 2015, exceeding projections.
Stock market: The Tehran Stock Exchange surged more than eight percent in the five days following the April 2 announcement.
Car production: Car production increased 58 percent in the first 11 months of the Iranian fiscal year.
International Developments
Russia: Russia has taken several steps to solidify economic ties with Iran in the wake of the April 2 announcement. In April, Russia began implementing an oil-for-goods deal with Iran. “In exchange for Iranian crude oil supplies, we are delivering certain products,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. “This is not banned or limited under the current sanctions regime.” Moscow and Tehran had been negotiating the deal since early 2014. Iran and Russia also signed an agreement to create a joint body to regulate financial transactions between the two countries, which will help reduce the effects of international sanctions.
On April 13, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the sale of advanced air defense missile systems to Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the embargo was no longer necessary given progress in nuclear talks between Iran and the world’s six major powers.
United States: The U.S. Census Bureau reported that value of goods traded between the United States and Iran amounted to $30 million in January and February, up from $24.2 million during the same period the previous year.
With the prospect for a nuclear deal, American companies are also exploring the potential of the Iranian market. On April 16, a delegation of 22 American businessmen and investors made a rare visit to Tehran to discuss post-sanctions business opportunities. U.S. car manufacturers have also reportedly indicated an interest in Iran’s auto industry. “The Americans have expressed willingness for presence and investment in Iran’s market, and they are waiting for the Lausanne statement to become an agreement,” said Mohammad Reza Najafi-Manesh, member of Iran’s Car Manufacturing Policymaking Council.
Sanctions: Deputy head of Bank Melli Iran for International and Foreign Affairs Gholam Reza Panahi met with European bank representatives in Tehran in April to discuss resuming financial transactions if sanctions are lifted. “Once sanctions are removed, the ground will be prepared to provide brokerage services as well as international money transfer and other banking services for imports and exports,” he said.
China: Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh affirmed China’s role as a key energy partner for Iran. China is the largest buyer of Iranian crude oil, and Iranian oil accounts for 12 percent of China’s annual oil consumption. Officials have indicated that sales of Iranian oil to China would likely increase if sanctions are lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even with more potential buyers on the market.
Trade: Iran exported $49.74 billion and imported $52.48 billion in goods over the past 12 months, according to the Iranian customs office. The value of exports increased by nearly 19 percent compared to the previous year. On March 18, President Hassan Rouhani announced that non-oil exports exceeded expectations, despite international sanctions.
Switzerland: A Swiss business delegation met with Gholam Hossein Shafei, head of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, on April 28. The two sides discussed expanding bilateral trade. "We would like to find out how the Iranian government wants to proceed until negotiations are concluded, and after sanctions are lifted," said former Swiss ambassador to Iran Livia Leu, who accompanied the delegation.
Germany: A group of German businessmen met with senior Iranian officials for the second time in several months to explore investment opportunities if sanctions are lifted. Shafei said that Germany could potentially become a reliable trade partner for Iran's saffron, carpet, and dried fruits exports.
France: France’s Total indicated that it would be interested in reviving oil and gas investments in Iran, if sanctions are lifted. “Iran has the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia, and we will consider returning to this country once sanctions are lifted,” said Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne.



Turkey: On April 7, Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed eight agreements to increase bilateral trade, aiming to increase trade volume to $30 billion by the end of 2015. Iran imported $875 million in commodities from Turkey – including gold, jewelry, produce, and leather goods – in the last quarter of the Iranian year, ending on March 20. But Ankara rejected Tehran’s offer to double Iran’s natural gas exports to Turkey at a discounted price. Turkey imports around 27 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Iran each year, accounting for 95 percent of Iran’s gas exports.
Asia: Iran is reportedly in talks with three Asian buyers to increase crude oil sales if sanctions are lifted.  


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