Experts Appeal to Trump on Iran Deal

15.11.2016 -

Since the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, companies based in other countries that signed the nuclear deal with Iran have feared it might be doomed. Calling it a “foreign-policy disaster,” during the campaign Trump vowed to reverse or renegotiate it. This is despite five other major powers – along with Iran Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany – ratifying the pact and the United Nations Security Council endorsing it.

All the other signees have said they intend to honor the agreement. Now 76 US national security experts have called on the president-elect to rethink his position. In the paper released by the National Iranian American Council, the experts, which including former officials from both the Democratic and Republican parties, said the pact with Iran “can bear fruit despite skepticism about Iranian sincerity, the inclination of Iran’s supreme leader to abide by the deal or the ability of Iranian hard-liners to sabotage diplomacy.”

Since the initial agreement in 2014 as part of the so-called Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed by the above-mentioned countries and the lifting of US sanctions in early 2016, European petrochemical-related companies have begun talking to Iranian officials about reviving projects that had been put on ice or planning new ones. American companies have been extremely cautious up to now, and many observers believe they could miss out altogether if the US backs out of the deal.

France’s Total is said to plan investments of up to $2 billion in Iran’s petrochemical industry, with speculation focusing on an olefins project expected to be signed by the end of the current Iranian calendar year – Mar. 20, 2017. It has already signed several deals with Iran, including a Memorandum of Understanding with state-owned National Petrochemical Company (NPC) for a petrochemical complex.

Multinational oil giant Shell has signed a letter of intent with NPC to revive projects interrupted in 2010 by US sanctions, including gas to liquids, and Hans Nijkamp, head of the group’s department for Iran affairs, also has suggested it could be interested in a gas-based cracker.

Although it has not confirmed the deal, German gases and engineering group Linde has reportedly won a contract to perform front-end engineering design for an olefin, butadiene, hydrodealkylation and benzene plant being built by Kian Petrochemical Company. Reports said the project, financed on credit. Before sanctions were imposed, Linde was one of the foreign companies most active in the oil-rich country.

In other projects, Iran and South Africa have agreed a gas-to-liquids knowhow transfer and flavors and fragrances producer Symrise recently established a base in Tehran. BASF has been mooted to be in talks with officials about reviving suspended projects, but has confirmed nothing so far. Iranian officials have suggested that the country, which had around 63 million t of installed petrochemical capacity in 2015, will need to increase output to 130 million t/y by 2020, requiring a total investment of $52 billion, most of which would come from foreign firms.