The lower house has refused to lift a ban on deliveries to the Iranian
nuclear plant in Bushehr, in line with a proposal tabled by the Communist
The law enforcing such a ban was passed in 2,000 in reaction to a Czech firm’s plans to deliver ventilation equipment for the plant.
The deal was criticized by Britain and the US amid growing suspicion that Iran was using civilian nuclear program to cover up its nuclear projects in the military.
An agreement has since been reached with Iran which resulted in the lifting of sanctions against the country in the nuclear sphere, but the majority of Czech MPs still voted against lifting the ban, expressing concern with regard to Iran’s nuclear program and arguing that such a move could damage the country’s close ties with Israel.
Following the end of most sanctions earlier this year, Iran is one of the most courted countries in the world due to its booming economic prospects. The Czech Republic is seeking a piece of the prospective action with a top level Iranian delegation in Prague on Friday to chart how bilateral economic ties can develop further.
The Czech Republic and Iran are seeking ways to further increase their growing trade turnover. Following a meeting with the visiting Iranian Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said he would like to see bilateral trade increase tenfold in the near future. Czech exports to Iran increased by 46 percent in the first nine months of this year and bilateral trade is expected to get a new impetus with the signing of an agreement on protection of investments between the two countries scheduled to take place early next year. The Czech Republic has said it is ready to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization.
Cooperation between the Czech Republic and Iran in nuclear energy is an important opportunity for Czech-Iranian bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi agreed at their meeting on Monday. Mr Zaorálek told reporters that Czechs can offer expert know-how to Tehran. Mr Salehi, who visited the Nuclear Research Institute in Řež near Prague before his meeting with Mr Zaorálek, also praised the work of Czech nuclear researchers. He referred to the agreement between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, from last July, in which Tehran pledged to limit its nuclear activities and make them more transparent in exchange for the of lifting of U.S. and EU sanctions. As a result of the agreement, relations between the Czech Republic and Iran have become dynamic, Mr Zaorálek said.
With the ending of current sanctions expected to come as soon as the start of next year, Iran is now the target for trade delegations and missions from around the world. The Czech Republic is no exception and, after a ground breaking visit by the foreign minister, is now looking at the practical steps needed to exploit the opportunities when full two way trade resumes.
On a four day visit to Iran, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek on Monday met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss the need for cooperation in resolving the migrant crisis, global security issues and the breakthrough agreement on the country’s nuclear program which could bring a revitalization of economic relations.
A Czech business delegation has visited Iran on a fact-finding mission, the first of its kind in recent decades. Some 20 Czech firms, from machinery companies to pharmaceuticals producers, took part in the trip which could herald future closer cooperation between Iran and the Czech Republic, provided that sanctions imposed on Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme are lifted.