01/18/2016, 22.09

Tehran’s optimism stronger than the new sanctions

by Darius Karimian

The US has imposed new sanctions on groups linked to the missile tests. But Obama emphasizes the "historic progress" made by Iran. In Tehran the stock exchange reacted well; the rial has increased its value; economic newspapers all sold out. Fears for the upcoming elections of the Council of Experts and parliament.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – The new sanctions against Iran over its missile tests, imposed by the United States yesterday, will not dampen the sense of relief and optimism felt by Iranians after the lifting of sanctions and embargoes – which the international had imposed because their country’s nuclear program, following last July’s agreements and recent verifications.

For President Hassan Rouhani, "a new page" between Iran and the international community has been turned, and even his US counterpart, Barack Obama, said that Iran had made "historic progress".

With the end of the financial embargo, transactions will be possible again. Iran will get back the assets the United States and Great Britain froze and be able to sell its oil and gas without restrictions.

Rouhani said he hopes to see the country's GDP grow by 5 % this year.

The new US sanctions will prevent 11 entities and individuals linked to Iran’s missile program from using the US banking system. However, they will not stop Iran's economy, seen as one of the most promising in the world.

As a sign of this optimism, long queues formed in front newsstands yesterday across Tehran to buy newspapers, especially economic ones. Iran’s foremost business paper, Donya-ye Eghtesad (the world economy), was a soldout. Other papers went through two, even three runs.

Tehran’s stock exchange reacted very well and the rial gained 5% on all the major currencies. But nobody knows if this will last.

Experts say that with sanctions lifted, problems will come too. Low oil prices (today the Brent was below 28 dollars) mean that Iran’s reconstruction cannot be fast. The government also does not have a substantial foreign exchange reserve, and the end of sanctions will lead to more imports, which sooner or later will weaken the rial.

"It is very important,” said a businessman, “that we correct the idea among people that Iran’s problems will be solved overnight."

In general, people have lost the desire to continue Khomeini’s Revolution and are tired of tensions with other countries and of their economy's poor performance. Now they expects an increase in their living standards and a greater openness to foreign nations.

One question that still needs an answer is how conservatives will react. Close to hard-line ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards, they had to accept the nuclear deal and accept a friendlier relationship with the world.

One analyst, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the greatest fear "is political conflict between the government of moderates and conservatives radicals."

“Our country is facing two crucial electoral events, scheduled for February 26: the election of the Council of Experts (the group that checks the leaders’ decisions) and the Majlis (parliament).”

“If the moderates currently in power win, the path will be smooth. If radicals win, the path of detente could end. For the time being, with the end of sanctions, Rouhani won a pre-election victory."

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