News / Middle East

Iran Continues Its Tussle With West

The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is seen, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, 26 Oct 2010
The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is seen, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, 26 Oct 2010
Henry Ridgwell

Iran remains at odds with the United States and other western powers over its nuclear program and human rights. But despite the tightening of economic sanctions against Iran over the past 12 months, the diplomatic standoff looks set to extend well into next year. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Iran has longed claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and denies Western accusations that it seeks nuclear weapons.

Iranian negotiators met  in early December in Geneva with the representatives of six major powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.  But Iran agreed only to meet again in Istanbul in January and its chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, says Iran will not halt its enrichment program.

"We do not believe in talks wherein the other party or parties will use pressure to push their agenda," said Jalili. "We are not going to subscribe to that."

The U.S., the EU and the United Nations Security Council have all ramped up sanctions against Iran in the past year.

In July, President Barack Obama signed into law sanctions targeting Iran's energy and banking sectors, while making it increasingly tough for foreign companies to do business with Iran.

Middle East expert Rosemary Hollis:

"You've seen an increase of pressure on Iran in the form of sanctions and some some surprising developments of unity among the external players to ratchet up the pressure in unison," said Hollis. "But you've also seen Iran seemingly unaffected - certainly in policy terms - even if  the economy is hurting quite badly."

Despite the discord, Hollis sees little prospect the dispute will go beyond rancorous diplomacy.

"The signs are that there's been a receding of the possibility of war in part because it would appear that the Iranians are having terrible trouble with their technology," she said. "There's also very strong indications, partly confirmed by the Iranians, that they were hit by some computer viruses that hit the software on which the whole operation depends."

The recent publication of stolen U.S. diplomatic cables included some that say Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has repeatedly urged the United States to destroy Iran's nuclear program.

Intelligence analyst Bob Ayers says the regional fear over Iran's nuclear program is understandable.

"Having Iran as a regional nuclear power is very destabilizing and the Arab world does not have the capability on its own to take on Iran, so they were trying to push the U.S. into going in and taking action to preclude Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," said Ayers.

Iran's relations with the U.S. are strained further by the continued detention of two Americans, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, who are accused of illegally crossing into Iran in 2009. A third U.S. citizen, Sarah Shourd, was released on bail in September. All three claim Iranian border guards arrested them while they were hiking in Iraqi territory.

The case of an Iranian widow and mother of two also has attracted international attention. Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani faces death by stoning for alleged adultery, and a murder charge in connection to the death of her husband, but her execution has been repeatedly delayed.

Bahram Soroush has campaigned in Europe for Ashtiani's released.

"If Sakineh is alive today it's thanks to the campaign," said Soroush. "There were many other women and men in similar situations over the last three decades whose names we don't know, who died under sentences of stoning and execution and Sakineh's case was different because we had a picture of her, we had her full name, we had the son and daughter contacting the campaign to say that their mom was going to be stoned."

It's now 18 months since the Iranian government cracked down on the so-called Green Movement protests after the 2009 presidential election. Opposition supporters insist the spirit of those protests is not dead, but for now the Iranian government remains firmly in power.

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

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More