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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid