News / Middle East

Iran's FM: Agreement 'Possible' in Friday's Nuclear Talks

Iran Nuclear Talks Enter 'Serious Phase'i
X
November 07, 2013 8:59 PM
Iranian and international negotiators entered what one official called “a serious phase” of their nuclear talks in Geneva Thursday, as both sides face pressure to deliver results. Iran's foreign minister says there is progress, but the talks are “tough.” VOA's Al Pessin reports from Geneva.
Al Pessin
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif says an agreement with six world powers to resolve a decade-long standoff over Tehran's nuclear program is 'possible' by end of talks Friday.

U.S. officials said late Thursday that Secretary of State John Kerry will fly to Geneva Friday to participate in the nuclear negotiations -- a last-minute decision that suggests a deal could be imminent.

Zarif told CNN Thursday he believes "it is possible to reach an understanding or an agreement before we close these negotiations tomorrow evening," adding that Tehran was not willing to suspend uranium enrichment "in its entirety."

Iran's top diplomat expressed similar optimism in an interview two days earlier with a French television network.
 
Iranian negotiators, led by Zarif, met the United Nations contact group Thursday in Geneva for talks that could be decisive in easing tensions over Iran's nuclear program.

Recent Developments:

2012
  • January:  IAEA confirms Iran is refining uranium to 20% fissile purity.
  • February:  UN inspectors end talks in Tehran without inspecting disputed military site at Parchin.
  • April:  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows Iran will not surrender its nuclear rights.
  • May:  UN inspectors report they found find traces significantly upgraded uranium at an Iranian site.
  • July:  EU begins total ban on Iranian oil imports, US expands sanctions.
  • September:  IAEA demands access to Parchin, Iran calls EU sanctions "irresponsible."
  • December:  IAEA says it makes progress in talks with Iran. US imposes more sanctions.

2013
  • January:  Iran says it will speed up nuclear fuel work.
  • February: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejects direct nuclear talks with the U.S. Iran and world powers meet, agree to more talks.
  • May: IAEA says Iran has expanded nuclear activity.
  • September: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will not seek weapons of mass destruction. Iran and world powers agree to resume nuclear talks.
  • October: Iran holds talks with five permanent members of U.N. Security Council and Germany, more talks are set for November.
  • November: Iran holds another round of talks with the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany

This discussions started with what was described as a “good meeting” over breakfast between Zarif and the European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who chairs the U.N. team.

Then, the full delegations from Iran, the five permanent Security Council members, Germany and the EU got together for a 45-minute session. They were followed by smaller group meetings throughout the day.

"We are beginning to get to more detailed discussions this afternoon," Zarif told Reuters. "I'm hopeful that we can move forward...We are making progress but it's tough."    

In Washington, the White House signaled the United States was prepared to offer Iran limited relief from economic sanctions if it agreed to halt its nuclear development program and reverse part of it.

But the U.S. Congress tends to take a harder line on Iran than the Obama administration, and the chairman of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee said he would move ahead with a package of tough new sanctions on Iran after the negotiating session on its nuclear program ends in Geneva on Friday.

Talks enter 'serious phase'

An EU spokesman said the talks are entering "a serious phase.”

A senior U.S. official says the two sides are coming to understand what a “first step” would look like, after just one round of formal talks and one experts' meeting since the new Iranian government took power in July.

Officials are not providing details of an Iranian proposal presented here last month, but the senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the basic idea is to pause Iran's nuclear program, perhaps for six months, to provide time for negotiations on a long-term agreement.

In return, the official said the international community would ease some sanctions but not alter what she called the core sanctions regime.

The international community is seeking changes to Iran's nuclear program, and more transparency, to guarantee that it does not lead to the production of nuclear weapons.

Iran says it has no intention of developing such weapons, but parts of its program go beyond what experts say is needed for nuclear power and research, and it could be only months away from producing enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb.

Zarif said last week that Iran's new government is working to dispel those concerns.

“We believe that even a perception that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons is detrimental to our security, so we will do our best in order to remove that perception,” he said.

After the first round of talks, the chief U.S. delegate, Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, told VOA's Persian News Network the issues are difficult and fueled by decades of mistrust, but she indicated the two sides are now working toward the same goal.

"What I have seen in Geneva is a very different approach. It is a practical approach where each country of the P5+1 and Iran fight very hard for the interests of their country. That is what we are required to do," she said. "But at the same time (we) are trying to solve a problem that we really want to solve.”

Sanctions fight

But the Obama administration is fighting a rear-guard action against some members of Congress, who want to add sanctions against Iran just as these talks are showing promise, a move officials say could destroy any chance of a diplomatic solution.

At the same time, Iran's relatively moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, also has hardliners to contend with, who are likely to oppose any concessions on the nuclear program.

Iran expert and former State Department adviser Suzanne Maloney, now at the Brookings Institution, is skeptical that there is any overlap between what the two sides will accept, particularly based on a recent speech by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“While he has sought to defend the positions of the negotiators publicly, he has indicated, I think, a very strong skepticism that they'll be able to produce the kind of deal that he would accept," Maloney said.

"There does appear to be some distance between what the Iranians say publicly they want and need, in terms of sanctions relief, and what the administration seems to believe they can get away with offering,” she said.

Bridging that gap is the significant challenge the negotiators are facing here this week. They may not finish the job during these two days of talks, but they acknowledge they need to deliver a workable agreement soon, with only very limited amounts of patience on both sides.

Mark Snowiss contributed to this report from Washington.

You May Like

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Change Iran Now from: USA
November 09, 2013 5:00 PM
The movement in nuclear talks in Geneva must be built on proven steps by Iran to halt its weapons capacity and not just promises. We shouldn’t give them sanctions relief just because they say “Trust us.” Also, the US must include human rights issues as a condition of relief. This is the point where we have maximum leverage over a regime wanting a deal badly and we shouldn’t be giving away the farm.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
November 08, 2013 1:52 AM
This is my simple question. Syria agreed to abandon its chemical weapons probably urged by Russia without any dealings. I guess if there is some possibilities to play an important role for Russia to persuade Iran to abandon nuclear development.
In Response

by: Brenda Laramie from: USA
November 08, 2013 10:22 AM
hey Yoshi, a nuclear Iran is far more of a danger to Russia than it is to anyone else... well, except the Saudis... Russian idiotic expansionism incorporated millions of Muslims into it who want nothing else than destroy Russia in a blaze of nuclear glory - if Iran become nuclear, Russia is the most likely to feel the effects of it...

there is only one nation the Russians listen very attentively to - and that is - Israel. you would think that they would listen to US... but look what Putin did with the "reset" button (if you remember) - he took it and shove if up Obama's A... S... S...

by: Anonymous
November 08, 2013 12:31 AM
non of Iran's neighbors want Iran and US to mend ties. They have benefited for 34 years under current status. If Iran's isolatio ends, non of Iran's neighbors would be in any position to have any say in world economy, politics, tourism, etc

by: Change Iran Now from: USA
November 07, 2013 10:01 PM
A nuclear Iran will affect the global political energy economy. Iran’s location along the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea – the “energy ellipse” where about 75 percent of the oil reserves are situated – gives it a handle on the price of oil, a strategic commodity. The oil-producing states in the region will inevitably have to consider the desires of an intimidating, nuclear Iran. Iraq is already an Iranian satellite, and Azerbaijan and other Central Asian countries may follow suite. A nuclear Iran might also become more aggressive and take over the eastern province of Saudi Arabia that is mostly populated by Shiites and holds most of the Kingdom’s oil. While it is true that Iran and other oil-producing states cannot desist from selling oil, Tehran will be able to decide to whom to sell and at what price.

by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
November 07, 2013 12:01 PM
If there is even a 25% chance that the dialogue between the West and Iran could lead to elimination of the nuclear threat, I say it is worth it. We can readmit Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq to the the world community, so why not Iran and Syria? It is time the Saudis learn that with all their money and oil, they will never lead the world not to speak of the middle east. But for the money, they will still be in the middle ages. Women are not allowed to drive still, give me a break. For those who say Saudis are our strong allies, we remember who the 9/11 hijackers were. I am waiting for the day when we in the US become energy independent, then we can truly tell the sheiks and the kings to go take a hike.

by: Dr. V. Samyanov from: Moscow State U.
November 07, 2013 10:37 AM
My dear Dr Khan, you are missing the importance of the exercise... it is all calculated to change the regime in Iran... the West is finding out who is in best position to take over from the Mullahs and the Ayatollahs that have infected Iran since 79... now it seems that they have found their partners inside the regime... the people best placed in the regime to bring the regime down... and a transition is assured... the West don't want to repeat the disaster in Iraq... or else, by now, the American would have unleashed their most fearsome dog in the Middle East...
In Response

by: Prof. Stephen Fulbright from: USA
November 07, 2013 11:25 AM
calling Israel a "fearsome American dog" is undignified of you Dr Samyanov. I have read your insightful opinions and accord you great respect; and let me tell you that i have visited Russia and Israel multiple times in the past 10 years... and in comparison with Israel's sophistication, you and Russia, my dear Dr. are still living in a cave.
Israel is a fierce liberal democracy with free and unmolested Gay community - a nation of laws and a fountain of intellectual resources and innovations. I think Russia has much more to learn from Israel than to call her a fearsome American dog... she is nothing of the kind!!

by: Jerry Condon from: USA
November 07, 2013 10:33 AM
Oh yeh!!!! All the happy faces and smiles and glad-handing is a ruse to bring in the New World Order. These people are FRAUDS!!! The message from the architects of the Matrix tell us, EVERYTHING IS OK!!!

by: Dr.Bitcoin from: UK
November 07, 2013 10:14 AM
Catherine Ashton is a New World Order WENCH!

by: Dr. Salman Khan from: USA
November 07, 2013 8:34 AM
what can "Europe" do... really?? we are placing Saudi Arabia in mortal danger, our most significant Arab ally... well, maybe not an "Ally" by at least our frenemy... either way we can not ignore the Saudis cry for help. And for once, I am not worried about Israel; Israel can reduce the whole of Iran into a glowing parking lot in an hour... I think we all know that... but I am worried about Syria and Hizbullah gaining power and slaughtering millions of innocent civilians... and i am very worried about the Golf Arab states, and Saudi Arabia... Iran works very hard to subvert and undermined them from within like Hizbullah did in Lebanon... today Lebanon is an empty shell - a joke really..

I am beginning to think that the Saudis are on the hit list of America... we destroyed Iraq and gave it to the Iranians... Iraq should have been the most powerful allies of the Saudis, and now we are isolating the Saudis and throwing them to the Iranian slaughterhouse...
In Response

by: Iranian
November 08, 2013 12:34 AM
Saudi Arabia is more dangerous for US than Iran. All the Islamic militants who behead people are inspired by the ideology that Saudis export.
Your name suggests why you don't like Iran
In Response

by: Sunita Bramachandree from: India/UK
November 07, 2013 10:54 AM
one thing "Europe" know how to do well is sending "diplomats" to incite the Philistines against Israeli troopers... gallant troopers who are bound and guided by strict legal code of conduct - a code of conduct which the "diplomats" are happy to exploit... yelling and posturing at Israeli troopers... disgusting Europe !!!
In Response

by: Iranian
November 07, 2013 9:56 AM
Who are you? You seem to be from Pakistan, why do you comment as if you're an American?!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs