The Iranian Media’s Take on the Nuclear Deal

Following several extensions of official and unofficial deadlines in the latest round of nuclear negotiations, Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China) made a diplomatic breakthrough in nuclear talks with the announcement of a deal on Tuesday morning. The agreement, officially the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), limits Tehran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes, lifts almost a decade of economic sanctions on Iran, and is one of the most significant developments in the post-Cold War Middle East.

The deal has piqued the interest of many regional and international players for obvious reasons. However, there is a major perspective on the talks that has been under-covered in the US media: Iran’s. In light of this recent news, here is a rundown of Iranian news stories related to the deal that bridge the gap on both perspectives.

Western and Eastern Media Disparities

While both Iranian and Western news sources have had similar headlines about the deal, there were some notable disparities involving the two sides coverage of international reactions to the deal. Iranian media sources have discussed how international and regional actors are very pleased with the results of the nuclear deal. Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency has compiled a list of congratulatory and complimentary remarks given by heads of state in the region — including Bahrain, Iraq, Turkey, Tajikistan, Syria, and Russia — which have largely focused on the deal’s potential to bring peace and security to the Middle East. Mehr News Agency compiled a similar list of encouraging reactions from the international community, including reactions from Italy, India, Kuwait, United Kingdom, NATO, France, Germany, and the UN. Iranian outlets have also mentioned that Western countries, such as Germany and France, are already scheduling trips to Iran. Meanwhile, some American sources, including the New York Times, have also been careful to highlight the negative reactions to the deal, such as the political responses of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and several United States officials.

Still, some Iranian coverage remains cautious. Tehran Times’ Editor-in-Chief wrote a piece referring to the deal as one of the most outstanding political events of the twenty first century. Although, he also uses language that addresses the P5+1 group as “rivals,” and discusses how the world powers have tried to weaken Iran.

Iran’s Domestic Discussion

Iranian magazine Seda depicted President Obama next to the iconic Azadi Tower located in Azadi Square in Tehran. Having the President of the United States of America next to such an iconic tower, whose name literally translates to “freedom or liberty” in Farsi, shows how far diplomacy has reached within Iranian culture and media.

At the same time, a caricature in Etemaad Daily depicts foreign investors waiting to build in Iran after sanctions are lifted. Mehr News Agency posted a cartoon showing the opposition President Obama is facing in the US over the nuclear deal.

Payvand News has used the nuclear deal as an opportunity to raise a deeply contentious issue in Iranian domestic politics — government crack downs on press freedom and Internet activities. The Payvand News article stressed that Iranian civil society’s demands for increased political and social reforms need continued global support, even in the wake of the nuclear deal. Journalists have faced long term prison sentences, and now that the nuclear deal is finalizing, activists want Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to focus his concerns back on releasing political prisoners and lifting the security state in the universities.

Iran’s Future in the Global Economy

Iranian news outlets anticipating a deal have been eagerly discussing the possibility of the nation taking on the role as a “most important” emerging market in the global economy. International entrepreneurs are eyeing Iran as a key market opening up to major equity investors, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV. An Iranian government spokesman told reporters in Tehran that “the most important thing to do after the end of negotiations and removal of sanctions is drawing plans since the sanctions removal will create new opportunities.” The government says that after the end of the nuclear negotiations, huge sums of money will flow to the Iranian market from three conduits: unfrozen assets in other countries will be deposited in the Central Bank, an increase in oil and gas exports, and a boost in domestic and foreign investments.

Abbas Sha’rimoqaddam, deputy oil minister for petrochemical affairs and managing director of the National Petrochemical Company expressed hope that the JCPOA would pave the way for its energy sector to benefit from “the transfer of advanced technical processes and know-how” that Iran was barred from gaining as a result of international sanctions. Mohsen Qamsari, head of the National Iranian Oil Company, discussed ambitions for Iran to reclaim its share of the European oil markets.

Press TV ran headlines suggesting that the Iranian government’s greater interaction with other nations could bring with it “a new dawn” for the country’s tourism industry. The Head of the Cultural Heritage Organization confirmed that hoteliers from Germany, Greece, South Korea, and Singapore have traveled to Iran to test the tourism market in recent weeks. More than 12 hotel groups have held discussions with Iranian officials over the past year.

Meanwhile, an economic delegation from Iran is scheduled to travel to the United States in the coming months and the countries will be reopening their trade offices. The Chairman of the Iran World Trade Center said that the trip is meant to “thaw the ice of relations between the two countries to give a boost to bilateral transactions.”

On the other hand, Iran’s defense minister highlighted the fact that the country’s defense industry is self-sufficient, and will not need to wait for the removal of sanctions to continue making progress. 

About the Author(s)

Sarvenaz Bakhtiar

Director of Operations at the Center on Law and Security at NYU School of Law