Expert Advises Russia to Brace for Likely Iran Deal

Expert Advises Russia to Brace for Likely Iran Deal  Expert Advises Russia to Brace for Likely Iran Deal

An expert at Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) commented that there are "good" chances that Iran and the major powers will be able to work out a final settlement to the long-running dispute over Tehran's nuclear program which would lead to the lifting of sanctions against the country, so Russia is well-advised to brace itself so that it would not fall behind its international rivals to get into the Iranian market.   

"Iran's hopes for a relatively favorable outcome to talks with the six powers (the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) have increased because the West, and the United States in particular, want to see Tehran join the struggle against ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant)," Sergey Demidenko wrote in a recent article published on the website of the Russian think tank.

He said considering the "peculiarities" of Iranian diplomacy, this is unlikely that the parties will reach a consensus and sign a comprehensive agreement before the summer of 2015. "As long as Iran has wiggle room… it will continue bargaining with the world community. However, the prospects of a new deal are not entirely hopeless (even if a final result is not reached by the summer of 2015)."

Demidenko believes that Iran will eventually agree to a deal with the six powers, explaining, "This conclusion is prompted by the precarious state of the country's economy, which is in dire need of foreign investments (there are no opportunities in sight for getting the national economy up and running without foreign investments)."

  Signs of De-escalation

Elsewhere, he said some "signs of de-escalation" have already emerged. "Before the start of February negotiations in Geneva Iran suspended the operation of its powerful IR-5 gas centrifuge (a fact confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the US Department of State). Almost simultaneously the American company Boeing stepped up its cooperation with Iran Air by handing over to Iran seven air engines repaired at American enterprises." He also said western companies are interested in breaking into the Iranian market (signals to the effect were issued to Iran as early as 2013 by representatives of Chevron, ExxonMobil, Conoco, Anadarko and a number of European energy giants).

The expert went on to say that the chances of a new deal being signed between Iran and the major powers in the median term are rather "good", adding, "The settlement of the 'nuclear issue' would lead to an early lifting of the international embargo and trigger the flow of foreign investment to Iran.

"Such a development, which is equally welcome both for Iran and for the West, presents Russia with the challenge, that is, the possibility of losing some of its positions in the world hydrocarbon market once it is joined by Iran as a fully fledged participant (Iran is obviously a potential rival of Russia in this market)."

In conclusion, the analyst said Russia should not be slow in taking steps to be the first among the countries lining up to invest in Iran's gas industry. "Iran is concerned above all about its own national interests and if a Russian proposal turns out to be more attractive than those of Europe and the United States, it will work with the Russian corporations."

In addition, he said, "The sanctions on Iran will inevitably be lifted, but not any time soon. Therefore, Russia still has a chance to adjust its strategy in the global energy market with due account of the Iran factor. Failing that, yet another important source of currency revenue will be lost. Delay on this issue would be disastrous."