Skip to main content

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani registers for February's election of the Assembly of Experts, the clerical body that chooses the supreme leader, at the Interior Ministry in Tehran December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMATIMA/Reuters

There is a little poetic justice in Iran's imminent return to selling to the international petroleum market. Oil prices are at a nadir. But low-price oil revenues are better than none at all.

As if to show some last-minute spunk, the Iranians tested a ballistic missile in October, provoking the Americans to some new sanctions, timed for the ending of the more important ones. But almost all of Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium (13,000 centrifuges) has already been safely shipped out to Russia. For all Vladimir Putin's mischief-making habits, he doesn't want a nuclear-armed power in his neighbourhood.

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran now hopes for $50-billion (U.S.) in foreign investment. It's not a ridiculous goal, though his declaration of a new "golden chapter" in his country's economy is expressed in such florid terms. New Airbus planes, 114 of them for $10-billion, are already in the works. Daimler is coming back to Iran (after a six-year absence) to make trucks., and there's pent-up demand for cars in Iran. Most of the interest is coming from Europe but Canada, too, is waking up to the opportunities. Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Economic Development, is hoping for sales of civilian aircraft – once the sanctions end. A sale to Iran might even make the need for a bailout of Bombardier less likely.

Iran can also now collect large oil revenues that were withheld from it during the years of sanctions. Mr. Rouhani's Iran isn't quite in the same position as Alberta is with low oil prices.

The Iranians ought to be turning their minds to infrastructure. For several decades, they've used up their surface water lavishly. They need to correct that.

The Iranian government must also refrain from engaging in proxy wars in the Arabian Peninsula.

Of course, Iran is still a theocracy, with some range for the voters to choose their preferred theocrats. But the re-engagement of Iran with the world's commerce is welcome. Relations with comparatively enlightened Western countries will have good influence.

There was always a danger of a last-minute hiccup before "implementation day" of the nuclear agreement. With a little bit of luck, that has already been smoothed over the ballistic-missile test – for now at least.