The ink was barely dry on the agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear programme before a German government plane packed with the nation’s economic elite touched down in Tehran.
The trip was the first in a rush of European ministers and business people flocking to a market poised to reopen after years of grinding sanctions. Upscale Tehran hotels are packed and tables at trendy restaurants are scarce as foreigners jostle for bargains, even amid uncertainty over whether President Obama can overcome US congressional opposition to the deal.
The stream of visitors to Tehran is the latest sign of the Atlantic-wide divide between the US and Europe, where there is scant opposition to the pact that aims to crimp Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Barack Obama and secretary of state John Kerry have warned detractors that they would be unable to reimpose a multinational trade embargo if congress rejects the plans. The other five countries that helped broker the deal have also told congress they will not return to the negotiating table. The trips show that US leaders can’t keep Europeans from flying to Tehran ahead of the congressional vote, which must take place by 17 September.
“We are talking here about 80 million people who need energy supplies, who naturally also need healthcare, who want to get back off their knees in the oil and gas businesses. There are opportunities and chances,” Joe Kaeser, chief executive of Siemens, the German industrial conglomerate, told German television last month.
via The Guardian