By Javad Heirannia

INSTEX cannot satisfy all of Iran's needs: Shireen Hunter

July 10, 2019

TEHRAN - Shireen Tahmaasb Hunter, a professor of political science at Georgetown University, tells the Tehran Times that “By its very structure, Instex cannot satisfy all of Iran's needs, including its desire to sell oil and access the revenues earned by its sale. But Iran's economic needs go beyond mere sale of oil.”

“If Iran wants to develop economically, it must secure foreign investment and up-to date technology, especially in its oil industry,” Hunter says.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q: As a consequence of the fact that Europe could not completely stand by its commitments, Iran has taken the second step in suspending its commitments under the JCPOA. The reason for Iran's action is to profit from the benefits of the JCPOA. Can Europe stand to its JCPOA commitments?

A: It was clear from the beginning that if the United States did not remove its sanctions and objections to trade with Iran, the European states would not be able to do much. The reasons for this are obvious. Europe has a free market economy and therefore, governments do not interfere in the economic activities of companies and businesses. The latter make their decisions based on the loss and profits calculations. In view of the inter-connectedness of European economies with that of America, European business are unwilling to risk losing American markets by trading with Iran. Also, it is very difficult to circumvent the international banking mechanisms. Again, American banks and dollar are very influential within this banking system. In short, it is not so much that Europe does not want to live up to its commitments. Rather the fact is that it cannot even if it wanted to.

Q: According to some reports, France has decided to try to conceive the United States to return to JCPOA. Can it be true?

A: It would be very good if President Macron could convince Donald Trump to return to JCPOA. However, I doubt that the US would be convinced by France unless Macron comes up with a formula involving some mutual concessions by both US and Iran, including Iran's agreement to talk to America if at least some sanctions are reduced. Otherwise, i doubt that Macron could be successful. In general, Iran's efforts to bypass America in its efforts to get sanctions relief are unlikely to succeed.

Q: We are witnessing the last breaths of JCPOA and its survival depends on Europe's commitment to secure the sale of Iranian oil and Iran's banking transactions. Can Europe accomplish this task or does it practically accompany with the United States?

A: Given the characteristics of the international banking and financial systems and Europe's close economic and strategic relations with the US, despite some recent disagreements, I doubt that Europe could succeed in meeting Iran's needs.

Q: Although INSTEX proposed to be operational earlier, its utilization has been postponed by Europe on various pretexts. Paying attention to the fact that it is just proposed to be used for humanitarian aims, can it meet the needs of Iran?

A: By its very structure, Instex cannot satisfy all of Iran's needs, including its desire to sell oil and access the revenues earned by its sale. But Iran's economic needs go beyond mere sale of oil. If Iran wants to develop economically, it must secure foreign investment and up-to date technology, especially in its oil industry. This is impossible as long as sanctions are in place and Instex cannot change the situation. At best, Instex is an economic palliative or a band aid.
 

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