Status: 02/16/2022 3:15 PM

Many people in Iran yearn for an agreement with the West in the nuclear dispute. But will this bring back foreign investors? The country’s businessmen are skeptical – because of Donald Trump.

Written by Oliver Mayer-Roth, ARD Studio Istanbul, now Tehran

The news about the nuclear negotiations in Vienna these days couldn’t be more contradictory. Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign and security policy representative, tweeted on Monday that he firmly believes an agreement is on the horizon. It is time for one last effort to find a compromise.

Oliver Mayer Roth
ARD-Studio Istanbul

On the same day, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at the weekly press conference that there are currently no signs of a quick agreement and there is no reason for optimism – nor pessimism – about the ongoing negotiations.

At the request of ARD Khatibzadeh is demanding guarantees from negotiating partners that any agreement will survive a future change of government in the United States. “We must make sure that Washington never again makes a mockery of international relations and international law,” the spokesman said. The United States is unable to fulfill its promise. Therefore, suggestions were made to the other side about what this guarantee could look like. As negotiations are underway, details about the proposals cannot be given.

Khatibzadeh did not respond to the objection that governments of democratic countries would not change their political system for the sake of a nuclear deal and that any future government might reassess Iran’s compliance with the agreements.

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Entrepreneur’s concerns

About 150 kilometers southeast of Tehran, he is watching the struggle for an agreement with concern. There, in the Iranian desert, is the Tara Spinning Factory. His owner father sent 53-year-old Omid Yaraghi to Munich as a teenager to go to school and do an Abitur. After graduating, he returned to Iran and founded the textile company, which today generates annual sales of about 30 million euros.

Yaraghi says the sanctions have helped the cotton mill grow, in part, because it produces 80 million Iranians, who have to wear clothes even when Western brands aren’t allowed to do so due to US President Donald Trump’s 2020 textile sanctions against Iran’s progress.

Businessman Omid Yaraghi fears problems even if the outcome of the nuclear talks is positive.

Photo: Oliver Mayer-Roth, ARD Istanbul

His factory owns the most modern machines from Switzerland and Germany. The sanctions meant he could no longer get spare parts from Switzerland. On the other hand, the German Saurer Group is providing the technology because the Chinese have partially bought the company and were ignoring US sanctions.

Business partners cut off all communication

The consequences of the sanctions two years ago surprised Yaragi. Previous business partners, with whom I have always been in good contact, would not even answer emails or phone calls. The lines suddenly disappeared.

Yaragi hopes that the negotiations will reach a positive outcome before the Lunar New Year on March 20. He can understand the system’s requirement for guarantees. With Great Britain, France and Germany hardly opposed to the termination of the JCPOA nuclear agreement by then-US President Trump, Iran now lacks confidence in the words of the Europeans. Think of them as Washington’s puppets.

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Yaragi believes that even if the negotiations end positively, problems may arise again after the upcoming US elections. Because if Trump returns to power, he will be punished again. Large companies such as Siemens and Volkswagen have shared exactly this suspicion. You should back off on investments, even if there is an agreement. The regime is in no hurry to conclude negotiations. Because Tehran does not take US pressure and threats very seriously in military action against uranium enrichment.

Poverty and currency collapse

But in the capital’s Grand Bazaar, people are still hoping for a quick deal. The woman who does not want to give her name complains that hardly anyone does well from an economic point of view. Here most of them lived below the poverty line. In addition, the country’s currency, the rial, is constantly losing value.

The Iranian leadership’s brutal crackdown on its own people in the past raises doubts about whether the well-being of Iranians is at the center of the regime’s negotiations. It is said in Tehran that the government and the Revolutionary Guards need money to keep the institutions and agencies working. However, the agreement shortly before the New Year celebrations should give the Iranian people hope.

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