Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution when Iranians overthrew the Shah supported by the West, the United States has imposed diplomatic and economic sanctions on Iran. Because of these sanctions, the country has struggled in generating oil income through exports and financial trade, forcing them to considerate giving up its uranium enrichment rights. In the long run, the U.S. wants Iran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program.
When Iran publicized its nuclear program in 2002, it insisted that uranium enrichment and other activities involving nuclear energy were not for the development of nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was not able to confirm these claims. Until now, and despite the sanctions, Iran has continued to enrich uranium, saying the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allows signatories to develop nuclear energy for civilian use.
The sanctions imposed on Iran — by not only the U.S. but also the European Union and the United Nations — have severely affected the Iranian economy and the common citizens.
From 2006 to 2010, the U.N. ratified four rounds of sanctions, which included a block on Iranian arms exports. In 2012, the U.S. and E.U. imposed further sanctions on Iranian banks and oil exports.
The effects on the people have been devastating. High-inflation, crippling poverty, increased unemployment and shortages of food and medicine are affecting more than 75 million people living in Iran.
Iran has the third largest reserve of oil, but because of the U.S. sanctions and the E.U. embargo, the country is only able to export 700,000 barrels of oil (bpd) a day, a May 2013 report showed. Exports averaged at 2.2 million bpd in 2011.
Iran’s currency, the rial, has severely depreciated and lost two-thirds of its value compared to the U.S. dollar. This has affected inflation, which has risen to more than 40 percent in recent months.
Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, built much of his platform on working to reduce the sanctions for Iranians. Negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland, between Iran and the six world powers, the P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S., plus Germany, concluded on Oct. 17.
At the nuclear talks, the Iranian foreign minister, Mahammad Javad Zarif, presented a proposal that would ease the sanctions on Iran if the country accepts to forego some of its uranium enrichment rights. The discussions will continue in Geneva in early November.
By Christine Coester.