The upcoming lifting of international sanctions against Iran should up speed the implementation of Armenian-Iranian energy projects and earn Armenia other economic benefits, senior officials in Yerevan said on Friday.
“It will open up serious opportunities for us. Simply put, the Armenian economy will get additional oxygen,” Economy Minister Karen Chshmaritian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), commenting on Iran’s historic nuclear agreement with six world powers that was reached earlier this week.
Asked whether the Armenian government would now like to make new economic deals with Tehran or upgrade the existing ones, Chshmaritian said, “Everything depends on the time frames [for sanctions relief] and course of further events. It also depends on the extent of the readiness of our partner country [Iran] to review, expand or deepen them.”
“In any case, the Republic of Armenia has always been interested and will remain interested in that,” he said.
Energy Minister Yervand Zakharian also spoke of potentially significant benefits for the Armenian economy emanating from the nuclear deal.
“First of all, the construction of the Meghri hydroelectric station will most probably accelerate,” Zakharian said, referring to a $350 million facility which Armenia and Iran plan to build on a river marking their border.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran should also be able to make more investments [in Armenian-Iranian projects.] All opportunities are expanding,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Yerevan and Tehran also plan to build a new high-voltage transmission line that will enable Armenia to export much more electricity to the Islamic Republic generated by Iranian natural gas. Work on this project and the hydroelectric plant has repeatedly fallen behind schedule not least because of the international sanctions. In particular, the Armenian government has had to impose serious restrictions on cash operations between Armenian and Iranian banks.
“The main problem has been with the banking sectors,” confirmed Zakharian, who also co-heads an Iranian-Armenian intergovernmental commission on bilateral ties together with his Iranian counterpart, Hamid Chitchian.