TEHRAN, Iran — A less nuclear Iran may create a more beneficial economy for all its citizens. Although the Iranian nuclear deal was finalized in July 2015, the framework for a more productive economy hasn’t been defined.
In 2013, about nine percent of the Iranian population lived on less than five dollars a day, according to The World Bank. Yet, other Iranian organizations claim poverty levels represent only half of the population. Although the exact numbers are difficult to find, years of sanctions have taken a toll on Iran, with youth unemployment rates in double digits across the board.
Since expanding its nuclear development, Iran’s oil sales were harshly impacted. Oil is 80 percent of Iran’s public revenue. The U.S. barred all 27 European Union (EU) countries and other foreign states from buying Iranian oil. Consequently, inflation is beginning to plague the country.
In one week, the price of chicken rose by 30 percent, while the price of vegetables almost doubled. In 2011, unofficial unemployment rates were as high as 35 percent, according to The International Affairs Review.
These effects mostly impacted the poor – the least equipped to face sanctions and the least involved in nuclear development. Besides basic groceries, sanctions also prevent access to essential western medicine and health services.
With sanctions lifted, Iran’s poverty level will decrease. Iran will now have access to more than $100 billion that was previously in frozen assets, according to the BBC. This is a huge sum for a country with a gross domestic product of around $400 billion. Ideally, the money will be invested into modernizing the infrastructure and employing thousands.
With a severely-reduced nuclear program, Iran will have to become more business-oriented, and citizens will have access to more consumption and investment opportunities. Greater spending and investment within Iran will inevitably trickle down to the poor. This will make social benefits cheaper, and goods more accessible.
Whether Iran continues nuclear development post-deal remains unseen. However, decades of sanctions have been embedded in Iran’s infrastructure and social fabric, allowing poverty to thrive. The next 10 years will be a new opportunity for Iran to focus on revitalizing its economy, rather than weaponizing. One hope is that with the country experiencing new economic prosperity, the thought of creating more weapons will be less palatable.
– Henry Gao