Despite these deliberate delays in implementation, Bloomberg reported on Thursday that 4,530 of Iran’s initial 19,000 centrifuges have been removed. While the report did not acknowledge the lack of progress on Iran’s other obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it nevertheless speculated that the current pace of dismantling could lead to international sanctions being removed from the country as early as January.
This effectively parrots Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s claims that Iran’s implementation measures would be completed by the end of the year, thus opening the country for foreign investment almost immediately. These claims, however, were disputed from the time of their first utterance, by analysts who felt that the process of dismantling and alteration would require four to six months. They were disputed again after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared that the Islamic Republic would not even begin to take action on some aspects of implementation until after the International Atomic Energy Agency issued its report on the past military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear program, around December 15.
While Khamenei’s apparent focus has remained on restricting Western influence and “infiltration” of the Islamic Republic in the wake of the nuclear deal, other Iranian officials have been eager to present Iran as being on the fast track to sanctions relief, so as to encourage an influx of Western capital. Some Western entities have arguably shown a vested interest in the latter goal as well.
Indeed, it took only days past the conclusion of nuclear negotiations before Germany sent a trade delegation to the Islamic Republic, closely followed by other EU nations. Now Iran’s propaganda network Press TV reports that the Germany city of Frankfurt is hosting an Iranian investment conference aimed at further pursuing economic opportunities first explored in July.
Press TV has used the news of this conference to boast that bilateral trade between the two countries is expected to grow to six or seven billion dollars in 2016. The article was quick to note that these figures assume the speedy end of sanctions. Such remarks may encourage persons with a vested interest in such trade to push for final implementation of the nuclear deal even before Iran’s full compliance has been proven.
But in spite of these reports, the hardline Iranian attitudes that are holding back the nation’s nuclear implementation may also serve to undermine the kinds of foreign interest that Iran perceives as economically necessary but politically damaging. On Thursday, Business Insider reiterated the findings of a range of recent reports that indicate that Iran’s hardline authorities, especially the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Intelligence and Security Organization is in the midst of a “witch-hunt” for so-called spies, all in the interest of acting on Khamenei’s warnings about the vague threat of “enemy infiltration.”