Iran, USA and Russia after Lausanne

Iran, USA and Russia after Lausanne

Those who have recently said they expect a rapprochement between the United States and Iran will probably be frustrated. The founder of the Republic of Iran ayatollah Khomeini warned that the day American hypocrites will support the Islamic revolution the country may declare a period of mourning. The Iran’s supreme spiritual leader ayatollah Khamenei believes that Iran may change its tactics but the fundamental principles of the 1979 revolution must be left intact. Tehran shows no intent to get close to the United States. 

The position of Israel is a special case. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said any final Iran deal must include recognition of Israel’s right to exist. There is no ground to believe that Tehran will agree with the conditions of the deal put forward by Israel. It does not look like Tehran is ready to normalize the relations with another regional rival – Saudi Arabia. By launching a war against Shia Muslims in Yemen, Saudi Arabia showed its intent to fight Iran as a step on the way to achieve supremacy in the region. 

Moscow welcomed the Lausanne agreement calling it a rare example of successful cooperation between Russia and the West against the background of tensions over Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the talks were promising. According to him, «The results are encouraging and this agreement serves a political framework that identifies the most pressing points: the problem of enrichment, nuclear energy development and research, the issues of transparency and full control of the IAEA for the implementation of agreement». Talking about oil and gas cooperation he said «when it comes to purely economic interests, we have established a very solid cooperation base with Iran over the years». New aspects have added to this cooperation. Iran’s oil minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told the Iranian parliament that the oil industry faced a crisis. The Iranian oil ministry won’t be able to pay staff or invest in boosting production if parliament proceeds with a plan to slash funding, according to Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh. «The oil industry’s situation is deplorable», Zanganeh said in comments reported by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. The Iranian administration lowered the crude oil price for the next year’s budget (March 2015-March 2016 or Iranian calendar year 1394) to assume a base price of $40 from $72 a barrel. The further lowering of oil prices directly contradicts the Iranian interests. Tehran plans to join Russia trying to make oil prices go up. It will not sell its oil for a song. 

In case the sanctions are lifted the gas daily production may reach one billion 309 million cubic meters in two-three years. The Islamic Republic exports and imports gas at the same time using swap and barter deals. Now the Iran’s share of the world gas trade is 1, 5%. It aims for a 10% share exporting gas to Iraq (not to Europe) after the sanctions are lifted. In 2014 Iran exported about 10 billion cubic meters and imported more than 6 billion cubic meters of gas. The European Union’s desire to reduce the dependence on Russian gas remains wishful thinking. The Iran’s gas industry is definitely not able to satisfy the Europe’s needs. 

The lifting of sanctions is a complicated issue. Some sanctions have been imposed by the United Nations Security Council, some have been introduced in accordance with the unilateral decision of the European Union. Some US sanctions have been imposed by Congress, some have been enacted in accordance with the decision of President. There are also sanctions imposed by third countries to support the US and the EU. It’s clear that the deal should envisage lifting all sanctions simultaneously not separately. The task is complicated and Tehran counts on Russia’s support. 

The deal does not fully satisfy Iran. The Lausanne agreement says the restrictive measures will be lifted after «a mutually agreed period of time». There is no common understanding of what is means so the process may drag on for a long time. 

The agreement also says if at any point it is found out that Iran is not complying with the agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place. Russia refutes such an approach. Moscow offered to adopt a new resolution of the United Nations Security Council which would rescind all previous resolutions. The resolution should be mandatory for all the parties. All the following resolutions should be taken on the basis of normally accepted procedures. It means Moscow could resort to veto power. China supports the Russia’s proposal. It’s also important for Tehran. There are different sanctions imposed on Iran, some of them are related to nuclear program, support for terrorism, missile technologies etc. Holding separate talks on all sanctions will make the issue of nuclear program pale. 

The framework agreement reached in Lausanne between the «big six» and Iran does not guarantee reaching a final agreement on nuclear issue. Iran’s supreme leader has stopped short of endorsing last week’s tentative agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, saying he neither backs nor rejects it. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the framework deal as non-binding and insisted there was no guarantee a final deal would be struck. The discords between the United States and Iran have come to surface. Khamenei said he was concerned about ongoing negotiations because he did not trust the other side. «The White House published a factsheet which was wrong on most of the issues. It distorted reality», he said.

Tags: UN  Iran  Middle East  Russia  Saudi Arabia  US