Iran Feeling Optimistic about Lifting West’s Sanctions

Commercial oil tanker. Illustrative. The West has imposed oil sanctions on Iran. (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy. Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Nathan Schaeffer)

Roughly two weeks after Iran met with major world powers to discuss Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, the Islamic Republic believes sanctions imposed on them are about to be reduced. The Fars News Agency reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told a press conference on Sunday that the upcoming Iranian year (which begins March 21) shows promise for removing Western sanctions on Iran.

“With the measures devised by the Iranian diplomatic apparatus, we will witness the gradual removal of the sanctions from now on,” Fars quoted Salehi as saying. Western and United Nations’ sanctions on Iran have targeted a variety of Iranian industries—including oil and banking—in an effort to drive Tehran to compromise on its nuclear program. The West and the UN nuclear watchdog agency have long been concerned that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The West has repeatedly called the late February talks with Iran “useful,” although no breakthrough has been announced. The sides are set to meet at the political level again in April. Initially, Fars reported that Iran characterized the latest offer from the P5+1—the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany—as focusing on mutual confidence-building measures.

Despite the positive spin Salehi put on the sanctions issue, count Iran’s Supreme Leader as one person who is not convinced the nuclear talks with the P5+1 have proven successful. The Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei quoted the Iranian leader as saying last week, “In order to measure the honesty of westerners in the recent meeting with Iran, we should wait for the next meeting.”

Khamenei, speaking to the Iranian Assembly of Experts last Wednesday, also played down any compromise offered by the P5+1. “In this meeting, westerners did not do anything especial which can be considered as a concession,” the Supreme Leader was quoted as saying. “Rather, they merely acknowledged part of the Iranian nation’s rights.”

Iran has long claimed that they are just exercising their nuclear rights under international treaties, but the UK and the US have highlighted that Tehran has enriched nuclear fuel in a way that has no reasonable civilian use.

Israel has called for the West to use sanctions and a viable threat of military action to force Iran to halt troubling actions in its nuclear program.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, March 10, 2013)