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  • Many of the international sanctions that have strangled Iran's economy over more than a decade have been lifted,

  • following implementation of the nuclear accord.

  • Has the lifting of the sanctions brought the Islamic Republic in from the cold as a regional power in the middle east?

  • David Gardner, the FT's international affairs editor, joins me now.

  • David, what does implementation day really mean for Iran?

  • Is it completely different relationship that Iran can now have with the US?

  • It is a different relationship, it is, one shouldn't underestimate it, a golden moment for the Islamic Republic,

  • which has been regarded as a pariah state, a rogue state that was 37 years but over since 1979.

  • But above all, in the last as you know, dozen or so years, have these truly enveloping sanctions which have strangled its economy.

  • Um... I think definitely, it is being seen as an indispensable partner and player

  • in a region which is in meltdown and has so many problems.

  • I mean Iran is needed at the table on Syria, Iran cooperates with the US against ISIS and Iraq

  • and in so many other, conflictual situations from Lebanon to Yemen.

  • Well, it's very interesting that at a time when the Iranians and the Americans seem to be working much better together.

  • Iran's relations with its neighbors in the Arabia world have deteriorated significantly.

  • Do you think that Iran can be a stable force in the region?

  • It has a lot to do to become that.

  • To be regarded as a legitimate regional power,

  • it needs clearly to be seen by particularly the Sunni Arab power led by Saudi Arabia to pull in it's horns.

  • Um... to stop being seen as an aggressive actor taking advantage of the disintegration

  • because that is the worth of countries such as Iraq and Syria.

  • For whatever reasons that they started to disintegrate,

  • Iran has tended to work outside the state,

  • outside the institutions of these countries via agents such as militia to advance their interest.

  • But are you expecting the relationship between Iran and the Sunnie powers of the region

  • to deteriorate even further after implementation day?

  • There clearly is a feeling on the part of the Saudi is that all this comes at their expense.

  • Um... that has produced, in my judgement, a reactive policy.

  • Um... but at some point, this may settle if the principal actors in places such as Saudi Arabia and Iran

  • because clearly there needs to be some kind of dead-on between these two powers.

  • See it as in their interest to cooperate against common enemies such as ISIS.

  • We clearly haven't reached that point, far from it as you saw earlier this month

  • with the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Shia cleric.

  • Yet, at the same time in parallel you have processes,

  • the effort by the Saudis to put together some sort of viable Syrian opposition.

  • Let me ask you about oil.

  • Prices have gone down to 28 even below 28 today.

  • What do you think of the longer-term impact of Iran's return to the market as it's going to be?

  • I think there are two aspects to this.

  • Clearly, first of all, there is a huge unmet investment need in Iran

  • probably of the order of about a trillion dollars in the coming five years.

  • A great deal of that is in upgrading it's oil industry.

  • So the idea that they can suddenly turn on a tap is not the case.

  • So, I mean there is going to be an increase but I don't think it's going to be immediate.

  • But clearly overtime, it will have a softening effect on the oil price.

  • Iran is at the same time uh...

  • it is sitting on about 20% of the world's proven gas reserves,

  • a terribly important factor in a period when climate change is at the forefront of the international agenda.

  • Um... that is something I think which people would increasingly focus on and want to get into.

  • David, thanks very much. We've run out of time.

Many of the international sanctions that have strangled Iran's economy over more than a decade have been lifted,

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Iran comes in from the cold | FT Comment

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    Kristi Yang posted on 2016/01/19
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