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Iran: Future of Sanctions Still Uncertain

The Iranian propaganda network Press TV acknowledged these efforts once again on Wednesday in an article detailing continued economic cooperation between Iran and Russia. This cooperation is reportedly focused on the establishment of joint banking institutions that would allow the two countries to carry on transactions in their local currencies, thus circumventing Western reserve currencies and possibly weakening their influence on the global economy over the long term.

But it is not clear how confident the Islamic Republic is in the ability of this strategy to fully overcome sanctions. And in any event it is apparently aware of the fact that suspension or relief of sanctions is needed in the short term to prevent continued pain for the Iranian economy. With this in mind, Iran has been pushing very high demands with regard to the sanctions issue at negotiations with the P5+1.

The Economic Times reported on Wednesday that in spite of these demands the United States is sticking to what it describes as a common sense approach to scaling back sanctions, which involves doing so only gradually and after the Islamic Republic has demonstrated commitment to its own obligations under any nuclear deal that may be signed.

This position, which was reiterated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, may or may not assuage the fears of President Obama’s critics that his administration may be preparing to circumvent Congress to suspend sanctions quickly. This possibility was first reported by the New York Times, and The Tower indicates that there was a strong and immediate response to it. In the wake of that debate, the exact Obama administration position has not been clear, and the possibility remains that some but not all sanctions may be slated for immediate revocation without much Iranian buy-in.

The prospects for sanctions relief are arguably even more uncertain than the prospects for the nuclear deal that they would be a part of. In spite of this, and in spite of Iranian officials’ expressed confidence that a deal will be reached, the Islamic Republic does not appear to be counting on that deal. Neither does it appear to be counting on the ability of its oil economy to circumvent sanctions.

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