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Originally published November 25, 2013 at 8:45 PM | Page modified November 26, 2013 at 6:34 AM

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Iranians see economic promise in nuclear accord

Iranian officials have hailed the deal as one that is economically favorable, portraying it much more positively for Tehran than have their American counterparts, who have said any benefits to Iran will be severely limited.


The Washington Post

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TEHRAN — A new sense of economic optimism has reverberated across Iran since the signing over the weekend of an initial deal between Tehran and world powers that is aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

For a second straight day Monday, the local currency, the rial, rose about 2 percent against the U.S. dollar, regaining some of the value it has lost since last year, as the promise that some sanctions against Iran would be eased under the accord gave rise to hopes that the Islamic republic’s long economic isolation might come to an end.

“This is Iran, everyone is happy,” said a headline published Monday on the front page of the reformist newspaper Etemaad, along with a photograph of Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, smiling and shaking hands.

Iranian officials have hailed the deal as one that is economically favorable, portraying it much more positively for Tehran than have their American counterparts, who have said any benefits to Iran will be severely limited.

The agreement allows Iran limited access to oil revenue, which had been cut off in recent months, as well as easing of restrictions on Iran’s auto industry, a key employer. On Monday, Iran’s domestic media said that $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets had already been released, but the United States and its allies have not confirmed that figure.

U.S. officials said that any financial relief will be narrow and could be reversed after six months, unless Iran agrees to further steps to limit its nuclear program.

“This relief is limited, temporary, targeted and reversible,” a senior Obama administration official said in a conference call over the weekend after the deal was signed. The official spoke under rules that required anonymity.

“It is designed so that the core of our sanctions, the sanctions that have had a tremendous bite — the oil, banking and financial sanctions — all remain in place,” the official said.

Improving Iran’s economy has been a key goal for the country’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, who was elected in June after a campaign in which he called for improving Iran’s relationship with the world. Rouhani could claim few measurable successes until the initial agreement with the P5+1 group was signed in Geneva over the weekend. The P5+1 group includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — and Germany.

“What has happened during Rouhani’s 100 days has given peace and calm back to the Iranian people. The value of our national money has increased putting an end to our economic free fall,” said Saeed Laylaz, a local analyst.

In Tehran, as well as in Washington, those who have embraced the accord remain wary of celebrating before a permanent deal is finalized, recognizing the potential for further discord. With Israel strongly opposed to the deal, the Obama administration is trying to dissuade its supporters in Congress from imposing new sanctions against Iran at a time when talks are supposed to continue.

In Iran, some conservatives disapprove of what they have portrayed as Rouhani’s conciliatory approach. But so far, those voices are being drown out, especially as Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, signaled his acceptance of the initial deal Sunday.

A sense of hope among ordinary Iranians remains palpable.

“This is great news to me. It means peace to me,” said Ghasem Mansoorian, a 73-year-old retired government worker. “I have seen bad days in this country and hope that in future all we see is agreement and deals rather than war and conflict. Our economy, which is suffering, will now move forward, and hopefully our spending power will improve.”



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