Newspaper article Roll Call

Five by Five Friday Q&A: Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council, Part One

Newspaper article Roll Call

Five by Five Friday Q&A: Jamal Abdi, National Iranian American Council, Part One

Article excerpt

According to a recently published story, a high-ranking Obama administration official declared an Iran nuclear deal his top second term priority, on par with the push for a health care overhaul in his first term. The National Iranian American Council has advocated on behalf of a diplomatic agreement and giving it time to work rather than imposing new sanctions mid-negotiations, in a bid to avert war with Iran.

In an interview Jamal Abdi (@jabdi), the group's policy director, spoke with Five By Five about the economic ramifications of a deal; the prospects of an agreement and the chief barriers; the Obama administration plan not to approach Congress for sanctions relief help, at least at first; and the fears that Iran is trying to exploit the negotiations to simultaneously get sanctions relief while continuing to build a bomb.

This is the first of two parts. (Interview edited slightly for length.)

NIAC recently hailed the chance that Apple could be looking to enter Iran. How big could this nuclear deal be economically for Iran and the United States?

A lot of that remains to be seen. The way in which the U.S implements the sanctions relief will determine not just whether Iran is able to benefit economically, but also determine whether the nuclear deal is sustainable and fully implemented on the Iranian side. Iran upholding their obligations of imposing curbs on the programs, inspections and transparency is going to be contingent on whether the United States and its partners meet their conditions. The better one side does, the better the other side will be able to do. There's going to be a sort of symbiotic relationship on each side to implement its side of the deal.

I think Iran does stand to benefit greatly from this deal. The real question is going to be how the United States actually structures the relief in terms of lifting financial sanctions. Then for the United States the big question is, can U.S. companies actually benefit from this deal? NIAC produced a report estimating that $175 billion has been lost in the course of the sanctions regime because of lost opportunities with Iran.

This deal isn't necessarily going to open up those opportunities, because the United States will most likely still maintain a trade embargo. …

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