Uncertain Prospects for Reviving the Nuclear Deal
The editorial of Arman Melli argues that the prospects for reaching an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program have become increasingly elusive.
It is not certain if the nuclear deal (JCPOA) can be restored. Some analysts maintain that under the current circumstances and given the suspension of the nuclear talks in Vienna, there is not much hope for reviving the deal. Of course, it must be noted that those who currently hold executive power in Iran were against the JCPOA from the beginning, and perhaps they never intended to restore the deal at all. Some ultra-conservative “hardliners” in Iran are still against the deal, and now that the Vienna talks have been stalled, they think have succeeded in achieving their goal.
Of course, there is still a chance for all sides to return to Vienna, and all sides concur that after resolving some issues, they can still reach an agreement. It must be admitted that although America and the other parties can be fully blamed for not reaching an agreement, they look at the problems from their own standpoints. They have always been concerned about regional issues and Iran’s presence in the region, which is why they have put sanctions on Iran and have raised these issues in the nuclear talks.
So, those who are against the JCPOA in America raise the issue of regional problems and Iran’s influence. But this issue does not seem to impede the revival of the JCPOA, because although all sides continue to double down on their respective stances, they still talk of being able to reach an agreement.
On the other hand, it can be said that the Americans need an agreement to revive the JCPOA, but the Americans look at this issue from their own perspective, with a logic different from Iran’s. They consider that given the West’s determination to isolate Russia from the global energy market, they can interact with Iran in a way that would lead to revenues and improved living standards for Iranians.
They think, therefore, that Iran might welcome this offer. Although under normal circumstances, this offer might be good for Iran, it is also important to see what the Americans want in return. Anyhow, let us hope that the process of reviving the JCPOA moves forward in a peaceful and positive manner.
About “Layette Gate”
The editorial of Aftab Yazd points to the recent scandal about Iran’s Parliament Speaker and his family, highlighting the hypocrisy of the so-called ultra-conservative “principlists” in Iran.
Regarding the so-called “layette gate” controversy in Iran – the purchase of a layette for the grandchild of Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf by his wife, his daughter and his son-in-law – it is important not to forget amid all the controversies and reactions that Ghalibaf is one of the top figures of the ultra-conservative forces, or “principlists,” in Iran who advocate living a simple life and not being seduced by the West’s allure.
To put it simply, the layette scandal is not about a second or third-rank figure of this political faction. It is about someone who has been a ubiquitous figure in all political decisions and actions undertaken by the “principlists.” He was also among those who condemned the class disparity in society in his election campaigns, complaining about how the privileged 4 percent are usurping the rights of 96 percent of the population.
Ghalibaf has held important and sensitive positions and has been one of the main figures in all elections. It can be said that he was one of those “principlists” with a higher degree of public popularity. So, it is important to remember who we are talking about when we talk about “layette gate.”
If we look at this issue closely, we can easily conclude that someone like Ghalibaf cannot control his own family, while even his own wife and children do not believe in his so-called revolutionary slogans. We must also take a look at the other “principlists” and the way they live their lives.
Because Ghalibaf is well-known, his hypocritical behavior was exposed on social media. Now we must see if other lesser-known “principlists” are guilty of the same hypocrisy and adopt lifestyles which run counter to their highly-vaunted slogans.
What a pity that people have to listen to the empty slogans of these people, who keep urging people to be patient in the face of tough conditions.
Not Understanding People’s Pain
The editorial of Ebtekar underscores the fact that Iranian public officials make remarks that indicate their lack of understanding and compassion for the Iranian people and their problems.
A constant criticism against the previous government, particularly during its second term, was about its distance from the pain and problems suffered by the masses. Official remarks revealed the lack of a genuine understanding of the harsh conditions endured by the people, which added insult to injury. Now, it seems that the same problem has continued in Ebrahim Raisi’s government, getting worse in some cases.
It goes without saying that harsh economic conditions will not go away overnight or by issuing an executive order. We know very well that these conditions have been caused by managerial mistakes which were not confined to the executive branch and former governments. Nevertheless, we must know that people will not become hopeful when we simply give them numbers and statistics.
On the other hand, the concerns raised by some lawmakers and public officials are so disconnected from people’s urgent, essential problems that it is as if some of these officials live in a different country.
What is obvious is that the pain will not heal by simply covering it up. The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging it. Although it must be admitted that public officials are making less irresponsible remarks compared to the previous ones, they are still showing no compassion for people and their economic problems. Lack of compassion for each other, in fact, is pervasive in society, but there is no doubt that officials are primarily responsible for addressing this problem. The lack of compassion demonstrated by public officials reflects the absence of a real understanding of people’s pain.
People are well aware that their poor economic conditions will not be resolved by simply issuing an executive order or presenting numbers and statistics. What is more, the behavior of the public indicates their good understanding of the variables that impact the economic situation. So, perhaps it would be beneficial for public officials to talk to people about ground realities and try to resolve the underlying issues. Undoubtedly, if the gap between officials and people keep widening, the fallout will be far-reaching.
Oil Prices and the Stalemate in Restoring the JCPOA
The editorial of Eskenas argues that Iran must take advantage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to regain its place in the global energy market.
It is unlikely that oil prices will continue to increase in the global market, but in the short run, it might even reach $130 per barrel. This increase in oil prices has been caused by tensions between Russia and Ukraine, as well as due to the drop in oil transported to Europe.
If after restoring the nuclear deal (JCPOA) Iran returns to the global market, roughly 2 million barrels per day (bpd) might be added to this market which can be effective in controlling oil prices. The delay in reaching an agreement in reviving the JCPOA is another significant factor impacting the oil market. In case an agreement with Iran is reached, Iran can sell a lot of oil in the market, given its oil reserves. Considering the fact that Russian oil exports range between 5.5 million bpd and 6 million bpd, the released oil reserves will be equal to 10 days’ worth of Russian oil exports and will not last long.
But Iran’s oil is ready to be shipped immediately to the European countries if the JCPOA is restored. Iran must take advantage of this opportunity to regain its position in the oil market which was seized by others due to US sanctions, and it can export up to 500,000 bpd to Europe. Although member countries of OPEC Plus want to increase their revenues and control oil prices as well, they do not have the capacity to increase their production.
Over the past three years, the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports have led to a decrease in investment in this sector which has been further undermined by the recent drop in oil prices. Given the increase in oil prices, 2 million bpd to 3 million bpd of shale oil production will be added to the market. That is why member countries of OPEC Plus are after keeping the price of oil at $80 to $90 per barrel, so that the production of shale oil and renewable energies will remain economically unviable.
Tehran IRGC Commander: Sanctioning IRGC Means Sanctioning the Iranian Nation
While there are differences between the United States and Iran over whether the IRGC should be delisted from the list of terrorist organizations or not, an IRGC commander described sanctioning the IRGC as “sanctioning the Iranian nation” and Tehran’s Friday prayer leader called for confronting those in Iran who oppose lifting the sanctions against the IRGC.
Ahmad Khatami, Tehran’s Friday prayer leader, without mentioning the details, called the remarks made about not delisting the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations “rubbish” and “in line with the enemy,” urging that “the officials must confront such nonsense.”
Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of the late Hashemi Rafsanjani, recently stated that delisting the IRGC from the list of US sanctions would be against Iranian society, urging that the only way to send the IRGC back to the barracks is to keep this organization on the list of sanctions.
Furthermore, Hassan Hassanzadeh, commander of the IRGC in Greater Tehran, made a threating statement, “I say to all the enemies and their underlings within the country that the IRGC will not be confined to any time and place.” He added that “sanctioning the IRGC means sanctioning the Iranian nation, and this hasn’t worked so far and those putting the sanctions are more isolated than ever.”
A number of Friday prayer leaders also praised this organization for its role in the Iran-Iraq War and for suppressing protests after the revolution in Iran.
The issue of delisting the IRGC is still sharply disputed between the Biden administration and Iran.
At the same time, 900 US citizens who were directly targeted or whose families were targeted by the IRGC or IRGC-affiliated groups, in a letter to Joe Biden, called for keeping the IRGC on the list of terrorist organizations.
No Buyer for Millions of Doses of Iranian Vaccines
According to Shargh daily’s report, millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines manufactured by Iranian companies have remained in storehouses, and while their expiration dates draw near, there are no domestic or foreign buyers for them.
According to this report, there are 6 million vaccines in the Cinnagen Company’s storehouse, 3 million in the Pastor Institute, 4 million in the Razi Research Institute, 2.5 million in Noora, and 3 million doses in Actoverco, with no potential buyers and with the expiration dates approaching soon.
Two Iranian manufacturers, Shargh adds, refrained from giving any information about vaccines left in their storehouses, but all of these manufacturers have criticized the government, stating, “They say there is no demand in the domestic market for using these vaccines, and there is no market for exporting them.”
The Iranian government has announced the storage of 50 million doses of domestically produced vaccines, saying there is no need to buy more.
Iranian vaccine manufacturers complain of a lack of buyers for their products, while none of these companies have received international approval for their manufactured vaccines, and even Iraq does not accept their vaccines from Iranian travelers.
Vaccine manufacturing representatives recently held a meeting with lawmakers, urging that due to the lack of government support, their vaccines will expire soon.
These manufacturers, according to Shargh, say that if the government does not purchase their vaccines, they will go bankrupt, emphasizing that the government must support them.
Last year, belated government measures for importing coronavirus vaccines on the pretext of manufacturing domestic vaccines led to several waves of COVID-19 in Iran, considerably increasing the number of infections and deaths.
Last year, the Iranian health minister had claimed that Iran was going to be the hub for exporting coronavirus vaccines to the region, but so far, no country has shown any interest in buying Iranian vaccines.
India Opts for Georgia Over Iran as Export Route
While many Iranian officials expected an increase in the export of Indian products through Iran to Russia, India opted for Georgia for exporting its products.
One of the important reasons for opting for alternative routes over Iran is that in the past two decades Iran has not completed the railroad from Chabahar to Afghanistan and Central Asia, while Iranian and Russian ports lack infrastructure and ships to handle bilateral trade.
Since December 2020, China too had opted for circumventing Iran to transit goods to the Caucasus, Turkey, and Eastern Europe, choosing a 9,000-kilometer route through the Central Asian republic of Azerbaijan to Georgia, Turkey and Eastern Europe.
These alternative routes are opted for, while Iranian officials have signed a document of 25-year cooperation agreement with China and an agreement with India for developing Chabahar Port which is exempted from US sanctions. Iranian officials had promised to expand strategic cooperation with these countries.
Moreover, in 2018, the Indian and Russian governments signed a memorandum of cooperation for expediting the plan for creating the International North-South Transit Corridor (INSTC) through Iran.
The INSTC will connect the Indian Ocean and the Gulf to the Caspian Sea through Iran and then through Russia to St. Petersburg and northern Europe. However, this project which was initiated in 2000 between Iran, Russia and India has not come to fruition as yet.
In recent months following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, talks about using this route increased. Davood Tafti, head of the Caspian Sea Shipping Company, had said earlier that given the insecurity and ongoing issues in the Black Sea, currently Iran’s route offers the best path for transiting goods to Russia.
In past years, by developing the Chabahar Port in Iran, India sough to transit goods through Iranian territories to Afghanistan, Russia and Eastern Europe. Iran’s route is one fifth of the distance that Indian ships must travel for transiting goods to the Black Sea and then to Russia and Eastern Europe.
Many Children of Officials Do Not Follow Their Parents’ Beliefs, Says “Reformist” Academic
Iranian “reformist” academic Sadegh Zibakalam, in an interview with ILNA, stated that the post-revolution generations in Iran do not hold the same beliefs as the former generations, and these differences are clearly manifested in society.
Zibakalam underscored that the problem is that many children of Iranian officials, like the rest of society, do not accept the beliefs of their fathers and do not endorse their behavior. He added that this can also be said of the children of Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf or President Ebrahim Raisi and other officials who do not believe in their fathers’ views about going abroad for shopping or living in the West.
This “reformist” academic underscored that many people from the newer generations are not willing to live in Iran, adding that interestingly this is true of officials’ children as well. They too, Zibakalam added, want to live in other countries because of the political, social and cultural atmosphere which exists in Iran.
Zibakalam explained that when millions of ordinary Iranians go to Turkey and other countries for shopping, it is no big deal, but it becomes problematic for officials because the behavior of their children defies their public pronouncements. Today, the problem is that Iranian officials chant anti-West slogans, but their children do not believe in them.
This “reformist” academic added that he himself has no problem with his children going abroad for shopping because he does not chant slogans against capitalism and the West. He highlighted the hypocrisy of certain Iranian officials, exposing the sharp difference between official rhetoric and reality.