Halfway through a six-month nuclear deal between Iran and major world powers that was meant to allow time to reach a comprehensive agreement, the Iranians have seen little in the way of a boost from the sanctions relief they had been expecting, trade lawyers and diplomatic analysts say.
Whether Iran's disappointment means that it will be more or less motivated to negotiate a permanent deal on its disputed nuclear program by the July 20 deadline remains unclear.
"Iran has become kryptonite for banks and shippers and insurance companies," said Farhad R. Alavi, a sanctions law specialist at Akrivis, a Washington-based international law firm that has fielded numerous inquiries about doing business with Iran since the temporary accord took effect. Though the accord may have served as a "teaser" to Iran, he said in a telephone interview, foreign business interest has remained extremely limited.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, another pro-sanctions group that contends that Iran is seeking the ability to make nuclear weapons, said he viewed the increased oil exports as an ominous sign for the nuclear talks because, in his view, Iran's leaders are feeling less economic pain.
"This enhances Iranian nuclear negotiating leverage and makes it more difficult to conclude a diplomatic deal that dismantles Iran's military-nuclear program and persuades Tehran to come clean on its past military-nuclear activities," he said.