Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1267, (22 - 28 October 2015)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1267, (22 - 28 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Iran’s adoption day

Last Sunday was Adoption Day for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iran nuclear agreement, reports Camelia Entekhabifard

Al-Ahram Weekly

The historic day that Iran has been waiting for — 90 days after UN Security Council Resolution 2231 was passed on 20 July — arrived last Saturday. The following day, Sunday 18 October, was Adoption Day for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iran nuclear programme.

On Sunday, US President Barack Obama picked up an elegant pen to sign a presidential memorandum directing that appropriate measures be taken to prepare for the US waiving of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.

“I welcome this important step forward, and we, together with our partners, must now focus on the critical work of fully implementing this comprehensive resolution that addresses our concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme,” Obama said.

The European Union also passed legislation on Sunday allowing member states to start looking at ending sanctions against Iran. These will not be lifted, however, until Implementation Day, which is between two and four months away.

But Adoption Day already means that Iran will be taking the necessary steps to limit its nuclear programme. These could include significant changes to the Arak Reactor, reductions to its uranium-enrichment capacity and stockpiles and increased access to and monitoring of its declared nuclear facilities.

Upon completion of these steps, and after verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), sanctions relief programmed under the JCPOA for Iran will be implemented and will come into effect on Implementation Day, expected some time in mid-December.

While everything looks in favour of Iran and in line with the hopes of Western countries, there are signs that opposition to the agreement is growing in Iran, fanned by the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Since the signing of the nuclear agreement, the top priority of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been to try to attract economic investment and to reassure potential investors that Iran is a stable and progressive country.

But hardliners in the country are now claiming that increased economic ties between Tehran and the West will lead to increased Western cultural and political influence in Iran.

In recent speeches, Khamenei has warned about Western efforts to penetrate Iran’s “decision-making and decision-taking centres” and claimed that Western cultural influence is more dangerous than political, economic and other types. Following his remarks, some Friday prayer leaders warned about the dangers of “cultural penetration” in the wake of the nuclear deal.

The idea that 80 million Iranians would be so naive and easy to influence by Western “penetration” would be funny were it not evidence of deeply deluded thinking within the country’s hierarchy.

The conspiracy theory probably began with a short encounter between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamed Javad Zarif and Obama at the United Nations in New York last month. Out of courtesy, Zarif shook hands with the US president. According to hardliners in Iran, the handshake was a sign of a coming Yankee invasion.

The basis of this delusion goes back to the foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran 36 years ago. Fears of a “soft revolution,” of foreign cultural influences and the threat of the “Great Satan” are part of the hardliners’ identity. With the news that foreign investors will be arriving in Tehran after implementation of the nuclear agreement, they have started actively working against the government.

Concluding trade deals with the West is a key way to improve Iran’s economy and the lives of its people, while erecting barricades against better economic conditions would affect the government’s popularity and influence.

If Rouhani’s government does not fulfill its promises to the people regarding the economy and diplomatic relations with the West, it will be hard for Rouhani to win the next elections, despite his success with the nuclear deal.

The opening of trade with Europe following the JCPOA, and the potential economic and political benefits of it, will create closer ties to the West. Rouhani plans to travel to France in November 2015. It will be the first trip to France by an Iranian president since 1999. This is another milestone in relations with the West and, of course, also represents increased business opportunities.

The trip comes after a late-September visit to Iran by a delegation from the Mouvement des Enterprises de France (MEDEF), France’s main business lobby. Increased economic and political integration with the West will give Iran new options, beyond their current trading partners of China and Russia.

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