News / Middle East

    Angry Over US Sanctions, Iran Stops Nuclear Talks

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (3rd L) arrives to brief members of the U.S. Senate on talks with Iran during a closed-door meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 11, 2013.
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (3rd L) arrives to brief members of the U.S. Senate on talks with Iran during a closed-door meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Dec. 11, 2013.
    Reuters
    Iran's anger over a new U.S. sanctions measure may have been behind its move to interrupt talks with world powers over how to implement last month's breakthrough nuclear agreement, two diplomats said on Friday.
     
    Several envoys stressed, however, that the inconclusive outcome of the Dec. 9-12 expert-level discussions in Vienna should not be seen as a sign that the political deal hammered out nearly three weeks ago was in serious trouble.
     
    The Nov. 24 interim accord, reached after marathon talks in Geneva, is seen as a step towards resolving a decade-old standoff over suspicions that Iran is covertly seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
     
    Experts from Iran, the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union labored during this week's talks at the headquarters of the U.N. nuclear watchdog to agree on how to carry it out in practice.
     
    But in a sign of the technical difficulties involved, they will now consult with their capitals before meeting again.
     
    A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinates the six powers' negotiations with Iran, said the discussions were expected to resume in the near future.
     
    “After four days of lengthy and detailed talks, reflecting the complexity of the technical issues discussed, it became clear that further work is needed,” Michael Mann said.
     
    “There will now be consultations in capitals, in the expectation that technical talks will continue soon.”
     
    Iran said on Friday a new U.S. measure targeting companies and individuals for supporting its nuclear program violated the spirit of the Geneva deal.
     
    Under that deal, Iran will curb its atomic activities in return for some easing of the international sanctions that have battered the major oil producer's economy.
     
    The United States on Thursday black-listed additional companies and people under sanctions aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining the capability to make nuclear weapons, U.S. officials said. Iran says its atomic work is purely peaceful.
     
    Treasury and State Department officials said the move showed the Geneva deal “does not, and will not, interfere with our continued efforts to expose and disrupt those supporting Iran's nuclear program or seeking to evade our sanctions.”
     
    Geneva 'spirit'

    Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told the semi-official Fars news agency on Friday: “We are evaluating the situation and Iran will react accordingly to the new sanctions imposed on 19 companies and individuals. It is against the spirit of the Geneva deal.”
     
    One diplomat said the Iranian delegation suddenly announced late on Thursday evening - hours after Washington made its decision public - that it was returning to Tehran.
     
    The Iranians said “they had received instructions from Tehran to stop the discussions and fly back to Tehran,” the diplomat said. “It was quite unexpected.”
     
    An EU diplomat said he did not believe the decision was linked to the issues under discussion in the Austrian capital.
     
    “My understanding was that this was not to do with a specific problem in what they were talking about but actually their reaction to moves in the U.S. on sanctions,” the diplomat said, adding that the hope was that it was a temporary problem.
     
    “The Iranians have been committed to making this work,” the diplomat said. “We are not panicking.”
     
    Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.
     
    Diplomats earlier said it was very hard to translate the  Geneva agreement into a plan for action, but that there was a political will to iron out any differences. They said implementation may start in January after technical matters have been settled.
     
    The deal was designed to halt Iran's nuclear advances for six months to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement of a dispute that has stirred fears of a new Middle East war.
     
    Scope for diplomacy widened after Iran elected the pragmatic Hassan Rouhani as president in June. He had promised to reduce Tehran's isolation and win sanctions easing.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.