Iran Says 50-50 Chance of Success in Nuke Talks with EU

Roger Wilkison

A senior Iranian official says talks with the European Union about Iran's nuclear program have only a 50 percent chance of success. The official made the remark after preparatory talks in advance of the negotiating session planned for Wednesday in Geneva.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will meet Wednesday with the top Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani in what both sides are calling a last-ditch attempt to save the negotiations.

With Iran threatening to resume some of the nuclear activities it froze last November as part of a deal with the Europeans, the European Union is warning that, if Tehran does so, it may have to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for punitive sanctions.

One of Mr. Rowhani's top deputies, Hossein Moussavian, was blunt as he emerged from the meeting at the French embassy in Brussels. He told reporters the chances of avoiding a breakdown in the talks are only 50-50.

"We are practically in the most difficult and complicated situation about the content of the negotiations. I believe our chance tomorrow is 50-50," he said. "We have had some steps forward, but we have a lot to go. I mean, I cannot say that I am completely optimistic."

Iran has accused the Europeans of dragging their feet in implementing their side of an accord whereby Iran suspended uranium enrichment in exchange for economic and technological help from the European Union. Iran maintains that, like other signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it has a right to enrich uranium. And it insists that its nuclear program is for civilian use only.

But enriched uranium can be used for military as well as civilian purposes, and the United States has long believed that Iran is seeking a nuclear-weapons capability. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says she has suspicions about Iran's intentions.

"I can say that there is significant concern around the world about the Iranian nuclear program," she said. "And I just want to add that it is not just the Iranian nuclear program but, of course, Iran, which has been a state sponsor of terrorism."

Iran has not threatened to resume uranium enrichment, although it insists it has the right to do so. What it has promised to do in the near future is to resume the conversion of uranium into gas, which is a precursor step to producing enriched uranium.

But the Europeans, whose efforts to engage Iran contrast with Washington's harder line toward the Islamic republic, say the resumption of any activity Iran froze as a result of the November agreement would breach that accord. Though they are reluctant to see the talks fail, they are prepared to refer Iran to the Security Council.

Tuesday's preparatory talks came as a leading London policy research organization, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said the EU-Iran talks appeared doomed to failure. It said most Iranians support their country's development of a nuclear capability. But it warned that a nuclear Iran could destabilize the Middle East.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs