WATCH: The deal between Iran and the P5+1 countries will open the door for a flood of new oil to eventually enter world markets, which will impact Canada. The Harper government has long been hostile towards Iran, having severed diplomatic ties with the country in 2012. As Mike Le Couteur reports, there was silence from Prime Minister Harper on the deal.
After long and sometimes heated negotiations, leaders in the international community have struck a deal that will place limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing international sanctions.
It’s a historic deal, 13 years in the making, and marks a step towards some level of cooperation with the Islamic Republic.
Proponents of the deal, such as those in the so-called P5+1, say this is an important step forward to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon and to change the nature of the international community’s relationship with Iran. Those against it — including Israel, many in the Israeli-American community, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and a string of Republican presidential hopefuls —see it as a “stunning historic mistake,” to quote Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
If you haven’t followed Canada’s stance on Iran over the past few years, it tends to align with that latter group.
While he and the Canadian government “appreciate” the work of the P5+1 negotiators (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China — the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — plus Germany), Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada “will continue to judge Iran by its actions not its words” — a line the Dept. of Foreign Affairs, Development and Trade has repeated for some time.
WATCH: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has outlined the details of an historic deal struck on Tuesday to curb Iran’s nuclear program.
In a statement, Nicholson called Iran a “significant threat to international peace and security” and a sponsor of terrorism. He said the Canadian government will be supportive of the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency to “monitor Iran’s compliance with its commitments.”
But, Canada won’t be rushing to lift any of its strict sanctions imposed on Iran. “We will examine this deal further before taking any specific Canadian action,” Nicholson said.
Whether Canada endorses the deal or not, it will have implications that will affect Canadians.
Iran is a major oil producer. How will that affect the price?
Canada is among the Top 5 oil producers in the world and any change to the oil market has an effect on our economy. Iran was the sixth biggest producer of oil in 2014, pumping 3.4 million barrels per day; Canada produced an estimated 4.3 million barrels per day.
With the announcement of the nuclear agreement Tuesday morning oil prices began fluctuating on the prospect of Iran adding as much as 500,000 barrels per day within the first year after meeting its commitments and seeing sanctions lifted.
Despite the volatility, early losses quickly flipped around and turned into gains and Canadian energy stocks went up on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
But, low oil prices and a glut in the market have hurt Canada’s oil-driven economy.
“Oil, even though it’s only three to five per cent of GDP, it’s a third of our exports. So, our export revenues have just plummeted because of the collapse of the price of oil,” Ian Lee, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, told Global News last week.
Canada’s economy is shrinking and some economists are warning we’re on the brink of recession.
Iran lost 1 million barrels a day in sales when international sanctions were put in place in 2012, according to Bloomberg. Iran has the fourth-largest oil reserves in the world — an estimated 157.8 billion barrels.
What about international trade with Iran?
See above. Canada’s strict economic sanctions aren’t going anywhere for the time being and that includes a ban on most imports and exports the Harper government imposed in 2013. Then-Foreign Minister John Baird, a fervent critic of the Iranian regime, said it was an attempt to “halt Iran’s reckless pursuit of their nuclear-weapons capabilities.”
Some trade still exists. Exemptions to the ban included some food, humanitarian assistance, medicine and medical equipment and “equipment, services and software that facilitate secure and widespread communications.” Canada has been a proponent of helping Iranians avert government-imposed restrictions on Internet access.
Imports from Iran in the first five months of this year added up to about $14.8 million. In that same period of 2013, prior to the instatement of the ban on May 29 of that year, Canada had imported $39 million worth of Iranian goods.
The Wall Street Journal reported Canada-Iran trade reached its peak in 2008, with $680 million in imports.
Will Canadians be able to travel to Iran?
There’s nothing really stopping Canadians from travelling to Iran now, it’s just not easy to do thanks to obstacles put in place by both governments.
Canada shut down its embassy in Tehran in 2012 and ordered all Iranian diplomats out of Ottawa. So getting a visa before you go isn’t easy.
The Canadian government has also warned Canadians to avoid all travel to Iran, saying that Canadians travelling in Iran “will be closely watched by Iranian authorities” and could be “arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained for a long period.”
READ MORE: Tories seek fine print on Iran nuclear deal
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a similar warning to its citizens about travel to Canada in 2012.
For dual citizens of Canada and Iran, the Canadian government cautioned Iran does not “recognize the principle of dual citizenship” and it is “virtually impossible” for Canadian officials to provide consular assistance to Iranian-Canadians who run into trouble.
On the Iranian side of things, the door has always been open to Canadian travellers who can get a visa. But last year, the Iranian government imposed a new requirement making it necessary for Canadians to travel with a registered tour group in order to see the country.