News / Middle East

Analysts Differ on Outlook for Iran Nuclear Talks

Iran's ambassador to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, saying the Istanbul talks are a 'window for an honorable path for the West to get out of the present impasse,' 20 Jan, 2
Iran's ambassador to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, speaks at a news conference in Moscow, Russia, saying the Istanbul talks are a 'window for an honorable path for the West to get out of the present impasse,' 20 Jan, 2


Iran will meet with representatives of the so-called "P5+1" nations Friday and Saturday in Istanbul. This round of talks about Iran's nuclear program is a follow-up to discussions held last month in Geneva.

When officials from the P5+1 nations - the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, plus Germany - sit down with Iran's representatives, their expectations will be the same as before. They want Tehran to be fully open about its nuclear program - including uranium enrichment and possible weapons development. The latter, if true, would violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty that Iran signed in 1972.

From Iran's side, the message going into the Istanbul talks is clear. Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a speech on January 19 said, "In the view of the Iranian nation, Iran's nuclear issue is finished ... sit down and cooperate with nuclear Iran."

The wide gap between the two sides is dampening optimism that the Istanbul talks will make substantial progress in resolving Iran's nuclear stance. One analyst with that view is Ploughshares Fund President Joseph Cirincione.

"I think the outlook for the talks is still pessimistic," said Cirincione. "There really is no sign that Iran trusts the P5+1 [nations], or is willing to make the kind of concessions that would make a compromise possible."

But another nuclear analyst, Michael Elleman with the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that after four rounds of UN sanctions and the threat of more, Iran has good reasons to try to bridge the gap.

"The fact that they are talking and they are continuing the process is encouraging to me," said Elleman. "The question will be how much progress is enough to forestall other measures that people will inevitably start calling for. But I think this is a good step and we need to keep our expectations low and hope for the best."

Iran has, in recent times, engaged in talks and then agreed to talk more in the future. At the Middle East Institute, analyst Alex Vatanka said that at the end of the Istanbul discussions, Iran needs to keep that process up, or face the consequences if it doesn't.

"So, you know, we can expect a statement, perhaps, on more talks," said Vatanka. "That would be a plus. On the minus side, you could see a collapse, and the idea of more sanctions happening by [next] summer, most likely."

However, Cirincione and other critics said Iran is simply using these talks to stall for time while it continues to work on its nuclear program, including, possibly, nuclear weapons.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs