News / Middle East

Iran Nuclear Talks Enter New Phase

Iran's ambassador to Austria Hassan Tajik leaves his limousine as he arrives at a hotel in Vienna, Feb. 17, 2014.
Iran's ambassador to Austria Hassan Tajik leaves his limousine as he arrives at a hotel in Vienna, Feb. 17, 2014.
Al Pessin
The future of Iran’s nuclear program, and its economy, are on the table as its government opened a new and likely difficult phase of negotiations with the United Nations contact group Tuesday morning in Vienna. The talks follow an interim agreement reached late last year that limited parts of Iran's nuclear program.
 
The historic agreement, reached in November, provided Iran with marginal sanctions relief in return for limits on some of the most worrisome aspects of its nuclear program.

But that was only an interim step, designed to last six months, perhaps a year, with the aim of negotiating more significant changes in the nuclear program in exchange for, potentially, lifting all the international sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

That process starts Tuesday in Vienna, when Iranian negotiators sit down with officials from the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, led by the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

Tricky negotiations loom

Experts say it will be a lengthy effort and even more difficult than last year’s talks. To get full sanctions relief, Iran will have to agree to deep and permanent cuts to its nuclear program to guarantee that it is not in a position to build a nuclear bomb.
 
Iran says it does not want a bomb, but the U.N. Security Council, and nuclear experts, are concerned that some aspects of its program already have brought it close to being able to build one.
 
Nuclear policy expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said one key question is whether Iran’s top leaders will accept such limits on a program they have made a key element of Iranian national pride, while denying that it has anything to do with nuclear weapons.
 
“The biggest stumbling block may be the extent to which the Iranians are willing to disclose sensitive aspects of the nuclear program, which point in the direction of having done research and development on nuclear weapons,” said Hibbs.

In addition, there are a lot of technical issues related to uranium enrichment and plutonium production, and various facilities with differing capabilities. On the other side, there is a complex web of international sanctions, as well as bilateral sanctions by some countries, including the United States.

Low expectations

A senior U.S. official said Monday the talks will be “complicated, difficult and lengthy,” with high stakes. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called for “deliberate, concentrated” talks, and said it is as likely they will fail as succeed.

For now, expectations are low. But the U.S. official noted that so far implementation of the interim agreement is going smoothly, adding it is now routine for U.S. and Iranian officials to meet, and to communicate by phone and e-mail, what the official called a “new world” from just a few months ago.  

Any accord will need a strong inspection and enforcement mechanism, expected to be led by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, which is headquartered in Vienna.

Hibbs said inspections are particularly important because of Iran’s history with the IAEA.
 
“There was a period of time for about two decades when Iran systematically deceived the International Atomic Energy Agency and the rest of the world about the scope of its nuclear program. So they have to come clean with essential activities that they carried out in the past,” he said.

The IAEA is conducting parallel talks with Iran to get a better understanding of its nuclear program.
 
Experts say these talks are likely to continue, on and off, for the full six months of the interim agreement, and perhaps for six additional months, if the two sides agree.  
 
At the end of the process there could be an Iran that the world is confident will remain nuclear weapons-free, and that will be able to develop its economy without sanctions and pursue its international policy without stigma. The alternative is more sanctions, more isolation and, potentially, a nuclear-armed Iran.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Robert from: South Africa
February 18, 2014 3:48 AM
Ambassador Tajik, please make up your minds - bombs or food? but not both!


by: Sensi
February 17, 2014 9:08 PM
"Iran says it does not want a bomb, but the U.N. Security Council, and nuclear experts, are concerned that some aspects of its program already have brought it close to being able to build one."

Oh really? Name us one!

Every US CIA's National Intelligence Estimate report have stated that Iran stopped its military nuclear program back in 2003, everything claimed otherwise is fact-less political allegations and propagandist garbage, like mentioning "concerns" from unnamed "nuclear experts".

In Response

by: alfredo ibarra from: mexico
February 18, 2014 12:50 PM
the same thing happened in Irak, when the inspectors could not find any shred of evidence that Irak was producing chemical weapons anymore, that they had complied with whichever monitoring organization, destroying all its stockpile, even I remember seeing photos of the destroyed weapons,and despite that a war began. So why that sanctimonious attitude on behalf of this anonymous senior envoy of the USA that prefers anonymity, when we thought that Irak was a better country even with its evil dictator and his children, where he could maintain a modicum of peace and tranquility.

Just look at the chaos that reigns nowadays in Irak.Is that peace and stability? when even Bush Sr. thought of Sadam a necessary evil. Let's give the Iranians the benefit of the doubt, and cooperate together with them for the peace and stability.And oftentimes the IAEA is perceived as part and parcel of a secret cabal, they should be objective and present hard facts.


by: Dan Huffman
February 17, 2014 8:29 PM
I understand that there are legitimate issues to be negotiated. What sanctions should be removed? Which nuclear facilities will have to make changes, and how? What I don't find so useful, though, is the talks between the IAEA and Iran. After all this time, if the experts within that organization still don't have the information they need to make assessments, and to inform the UN Security Council of their findings, then we have an unacceptable problem. There needs to be a complete analysis of Iran's nuclear capabilities before we can know how far along they are with a weapons program, so we can know what strategies we should use in the upcoming negotiations. If the IAEA doesn't truly know what's going on, then we need to keep the current sanctions in place until it does.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid