TEHRAN: The real problem in Iran right now, everyone in the international business community agrees, is uncertainty. That was not helped by Trump’s announcement on Friday that he would waive nuclear-related sanctions, but only once more and that Europe must work with Washington to “fix the deal’s disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw”. No one has any idea what’s going on. Trump has introduced so many layers of uncertainty,” a Western trade official in Tehran said on condition of anonymity. “That’s not necessarily negative. Things could actually improve if Trump pulls out of the deal. The Europeans could stay and the EU could provide protections for its industries against US sanctions.” On the surface, Trump’s vitriolic stance appears disastrous for the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which lifted many sanctions in exchange for curbs to the country’s nuclear program. Even as he confirmed the waiver of nuclear sanctions on Friday, Trump added yet more sanctions related to human rights and Iran’s missile program, adding to a vast web of restrictions that have scared off many Western companies. Major foreign banks have been particularly cautious of re-entering Iran, dreading a repeat of the record-breaking $8.9 billion penalty leveled on France’s BNP Paribas for breaching US sanctions on Iran and other countries. There seems little hope of hitting the government target of $50 billion in foreign investment per year, with the government saying less than $3.4 billion was achieved in 2016. Deals for things like industrial equipment, solar parks and dairy farms have been quietly building over the past two years. Deals are going on in complete silence,” said the Western trade official. “There’s no advantage to discussing it. Many have interests in the US or an American investor. They don’t want to make themselves a target. The divide between Europe and the US is widening,” said Farid Dehdilani, international affairs advisor for the Iranian Privatization Organization. “It’s been more than a year that President Trump is trying to undermine this deal but he’s basically failing. Nonetheless, the initial excitement that accompanied the nuclear deal has evaporated.
Look at the protests ordinary people are not optimistic about the future,” said Kalhor, referring to the deadly unrest that rocked dozens of Iranian cities over the new year, sparked by anger over unemployment and poor governance.