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World Watches How Iran, Now Free of Nuclear Sanctions, Will Act

“Implementation day” of the nuclear deal among Iran, the U.S., and five other world powers came and went on Saturday after international inspectors confirmed that Tehran had fulfilled the terms of the agreement.

The implications of the deal will play out over many years, as nations watch what Iran makes of itself now that Tehran has restrained its nuclear ambitions in order to be freed from punishing sanctions.

“It’s all on Iran to either reform itself, or not,” said Richard Nephew, a former State Department official who served as the lead sanctions expert for the U.S. team negotiating with Iran. “Candidly, we don’t know the answer to it.”

While Iran’s future actions are unknown, the impact of the sanctions relief on Tehran is immediate.

Iran has access to $100 billion in frozen oil revenues, although experts say roughly half of that money is already obligated.

After being freed of U.S.- and European-imposed oil and financial sanctions, Iran can participate in the international banking system and can sell as much oil as it wants.

But Iran is still barred from using the U.S. banking system, and the collapse of oil prices means Tehran will see less revenue from its sales—and it risks lowering prices further if it gluts the market.

Due to a U.S. trade embargo on Iran, Americans cannot sell goods and services to the country, and vice versa. There are exceptions. Foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies can do business with Iran, with some restrictions.

In addition, American companies can sell civilian aircraft to Iran, and the U.S. permits imports of certain Iranian products, like carpets, caviar, and pistachios, the New York Times reports.

Other U.S. sanctions related to Iran’s sponsoring of terrorism and human rights abuses remain in place, and the Obama administration just imposed sanctions on people involved with Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

To put it simply, Nephew told The Daily Signal, the sanctions that impacted sectors of Iran’s economy and industry have largely been removed, but some significant people and groups remain sanctioned, including the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Add it all up, and Iran has been greatly relieved from external pressure.

Iran’s first priority under its newfound freedom will be to improve its economy at home, experts say.

“The no. 1 thing Iran is going to do with its returned assets is shore up the economy, investing in energy infrastructure and social infrastructure in general,” said Alireza Nader, a senior international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation who focuses on Iran. “Generally, I think there will be boost for the economy, but I am not sure the average person will benefit immediately. If anything, the regime and associated businesses and companies will be the most immediate beneficiary.”

In a letter Tuesday to his country’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote that the government must use the lifting of sanctions to create an “economy of resistance.”

He said lifting sanctions alone is “not enough for improving the economy of the country and living…

 if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.


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