Iranian steelmakers cautiously optimistic over US-Iran talks

Iranian steel executives are hoping that talks between its government and Western authorities will ease the impact of sanctions on the country’s industrial sector.

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International trade sanctions are weighing heavily on the country’s industrial sector and many steelmaking plants currently under construction are progressing only slowly due to the trade restrictions.

“It seems that Iranian and Western authorities will reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear project [and this will] ease the progress of our projects. We are very optimistic that Iran [will be able to significantly] increase the number of plants under construction in future,” a project manager at a steel plant said.

Steel and other commodity imports have fallen in past few years as a result of the sanctions.

“We cannot import steel from anywhere other than China because there are no channels for payment to other countries,” an Iranian trader said.

Iran’s imports of steel in the first five months of the Iranian year (which, started on March 20) reached 1.5 million tonnes, compared with 2.3 million tonnes in same period last year, according to Iranian customs data.

“By removing sanctions in the coming months we will [gradually] come back to a normal business,” the trader added.

US secretary of state John Kerry and Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met in New York on Thursday September 26 as part of a meeting between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany.

It was the first meeting held at such level between Iran and the USA since the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979.

In another development, Iranian president Hasan Rohani said during an interview with the Washington Post in New York that Iran would want to see the nuclear issue resolved within three months.

“There is no doubt that the script of the Iranian authorities has changed,” one political analyst said. “But while the Western authorities may be hopeful, such words have to be followed by actual steps [to immediately] ease the sanctions,” he added.

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