With a final accord over Iran’s nuclear program inching ever-closer, the upstream opening Iran has long been preparing for could soon become a reality. Whether the oil ministry is actually ready for it is another question entirely.

Long posed as a question of if, rather than when, Iran and the international community would arrive at a solution to the more than decade-long standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program, this week saw a distinct shift in the tone of the nuclear talks, with cautious optimism seemingly the order of the day. Negotiators from Iran and the six world powers making up the P5+1 group flew into the Austrian capital late last week with a view to finalizing a landmark framework nuclear deal signed by the two sides in early April (MEES, 3 April). (CONTINUED - 2125 WORDS)