TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota praised Iran's internal economy as "very robust" and expressed confidence that the Islamic Republic would outlast the economic sanctions imposed by the US.
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"..., Iran has a very robust internal economy," William Beeman said in an interview with Tasnim.
"I have great faith in the Iranian economy and the resilience of the Iranian people," he said, adding, "Iran survived the debilitating war with Iraq from 1980-1988, and I believe it will outlast these economic sanctions as well."
William O Beeman is an internationally known expert on the Middle East and the Islamic World, particularly Iran, the Persian Gulf Region and Central Asia. He has also conducted research in Japan, India, Nepal, China and Europe. Beeman is also an actor, author, and singer.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Tasnim: A year after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and the European Union's continued failure to ensure Iran's economic rights under the deal, Tehran stopped honoring certain commitments in accordance with the text of the international accord. Recently, the Islamic Republic took "the third step" in reducing its obligations under the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It seems that these steps have had some good results as the European side is endeavoring to save the deal. What is your assessment of the outcomes of Iran's nuclear steps and especially the third step?
Beeman: Iran is still bound by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) signed in 1970 by nearly 200 nations (not Israel) including Iran and the United States. The NPT guarantees Iran and the other signatories who did not have nuclear weapons when they signed, the right to peaceful development of nuclear power, including uranium enrichment. Nineteen signatories to the NPT other than Iran enrich uranium commercially. The United States, prompted by Israel, claimed falsely that Iran was developing nuclear weapons in violation of the NPT. Iran asserted that it was still in compliance with the NPT. The United Nations was persuaded by the United States to question whether Iran';s peaceful enrichment of uranium was in compliance with the NPT. Thus in 2006, the UN imposed sanctions to limit Iran';s uranium enrichment and other nuclear development as 'confidence' building to ensure Iran';s compliance. The JCPOA was based on this skepticism about Iran';s activities. Thus in 2014, the JCPOA negotiated the lifting of sanctions on Iran in return for Iran guaranteeing that they would not engage in enhanced levels of enrichment for 15 years. It is important that Iran has NOT violated the NPT, and the JCPOA was an 'agreement' rather than a treaty. So Iran is still in full compliance with the NPT. Because the JCPOA was an agreement and a clause in the JCPOA states that if any party breaks the agreement, Iran need not comply, Iran has claimed that Trump';s withdrawal from the treaty means that Iran need not comply with its terms. But note once more, Iran is still in compliance with the NPT, which is the original underlying obligation to which the JCPOA refers. Iran has clearly decided to take these small incremental steps to highlight the consequences of breaking the JCPOA. What Iran is doing is not moving toward nuclear weapons'; development, but it is a clear signal to the Europeans and the US that it no longer feels bound by the conditions of the JCPOA.
Tasnim: As you know, Iran's policy of "active resistance" against US bullying and unilateralism has borne good results. In the latest instance, Iran's supertanker Adrian Darya-1, formerly known as Grace-1, was recently released by the government of Gibraltar despite a US request to continue its detention. In another development, the US recently announced plans to create a new security initiative in the Persian Gulf by forming a coalition against what it calls an Iranian threat. The US has asked its allies, including Germany, Japan, France, to join the coalition but the call has not been warmly welcomed by them. What do you think about Iran's policy and the concept of resistance?
Beeman: The United States is trying as hard as possible to find some pretext for attacking Iran. What would be necessary is for the United States to be able to claim that Iran has directly harmed the United States or US interests. The Grace-1 was not a US ship. Thus far, there has been absolutely nothing that the United States can possibly use as an accusation of Iran attacking the US with one exception: the US drone that was shot down over the Straits of Hormuz. There was a lot of discussion about whether the drone was in international waters or over Iranian territory. However Russian intelligence verified that the drone was indeed over Iranian territory, and after that, the United States went silent on this issue; they were clearly lying. Another attempt to find some way to claim that Iran 'attacked' the US was to develop this coalition of other nations, which the United States would join. Then if Iran attacked any of the nations in the coalition, the United States could claim that they were 'attacking the United States,' and that would be an excuse for military action against Iran. The bottom line is that Iran has never attacked the United States, and the United States has no pretext to use to attack Iran until they do. Iran is not stupid. It will not attack the United States or United States interests. If there is to be war with Iran, the United States will have to start it.
Tasnim: Despite Washington's policy of "maximum pressure" and its most severe sanctions against Tehran, the Islamic Republic has been able to control prices and inflation in the country through adopting certain financial strategies which are in line with the policy of "resistance economy". What is your take on that? Do you think that the resistance will work in the future?
Beeman: First, Iran has a very robust internal economy. Iran is fully able to produce almost everything it needs--food, industrial equipment, weaponry, electronic equipment, etc. This internal economy can sustain itself without foreign imports, or even oil income if necessary. Other financial strategies, as you mention, have also served to mitigate the sanctions. The government has decided to expend its foreign reserves by raising the value of the rial, for example. Recent visitors to Iran note that life seems completely normal. People do complain about unemployment and rising prices, but Iran has seen these difficulties in the past and has managed to survive them. I have great faith in the Iranian economy and the resilience of the Iranian people. Iran survived the debilitating war with Iraq from 1980-1988, and I believe it will outlast these economic sanctions as well.