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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid