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New international business flowing to Iran; how long before “Iran Air” takes off?

An Iranian jetliner lands at JFK.

Pure fantasy?

Today, maybe. But come 2020 it might just happen. That’s the high aspiration of the Iranian government as Chinese and European political and business leaders now rush to explore  more substantial economic ties with Iran.

China is already well established in that many Chinese investors had worked around the sanctions imposed on Iran over Teheran’s nuclear power program. Now, all bets are off on just how broad and deep that relationship may become. Last week China’s president, Xi Jinping was the first foreign leader to visit Iran after the lifting of most sanctions. Result: an agreement to increase China-Iran trade to $600 billion in the coming decade.

Yesterday,The New York Times reported this appraisal by a European diplomat: “Where we had to stand on the sidelines [because of the sanctions], the Chinese have been filling the void. They are well ahead of us.”

The relationship is central to the long term strategic goals of both countries. China relies on Iranian oil and sees Iran as a vital link in the Chinese westward “Silk Road” strategy; Iran is now entering a new stage of industrialization — and, many hope — modernization, with great new revenues available.

An Iranian national airline is a key part of the prospective Iranian evolution. Again The New York Times: “Airbus on Monday confirmed that it was poised to begin negotiations with Iran for the sale of dozens of new commercial aircraft, part of a raft of international business that is expected to flow to Teheran since it agreed to curtail its nuclear ambitions and crippling economic sanctions were lifted.”

Can Boeing afford to be far behind?

To be sure, there are many potential pitfalls for such ambitious international cooperation. But it is significant that when diplomacy creates the right conditions, business leaders, pursuing common interests despite ideological differences, can move the ball forward significantly.

Related, this paraphrase of the idealistic objective of a diplomat of a bygone era: Let us work to make the world so economically interdependent that war will go out of style.