(photo credit: AP [file])
A Kazakh Jewish metals tycoon wants to invest in Iran, and to invest big.
"I have already discussed a specific project worth many billions of dollars with a serious Iranian group and international investors," Alexander Mashkevich said last week at an event welcoming President Shimon Peres to the country held at a synagogue in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.
"The project is huge, worth many billions of dollars, and there are banks ready to lend. It's in the field of energy transportation," he told The Jerusalem Post.
Though it is OPEC's second-largest producer of crude oil, Iran's energy sector suffers severely from the lack of investment in infrastructure and international sanctions targeting the country's nuclear weapons program.
"We can only do this project, and many others, if we have the political support of the Iranian government and if sanctions are repealed," said Mashkevich. Both would require the regime to "change its ways," he said.
Mashkevich, born in 1954, is a philanthropist in the local Jewish community and an Israeli citizen. President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, he has never set foot in Iran.
"I'd love to go some day when it's possible. I'm doing this not just for Israel, but because it would be a good investment. But it would be a great achievement for these two countries [Israel and Iran] to live and cooperate together."
Mashkevich believes change is coming to Iran. "I talk to members of the Iranian elite. They're quite tired of the situation and of [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. I feel the people there want change."