News / Middle East

Iran Nuclear Talks Weigh On Those Watching From Afar

Iran Nuclear Talks Weigh on Those Watching from Afari
November 20, 2013 7:52 PM
Iranians at home and those living abroad are closely watching international talks this week aimed at ending Iran's controversial nuclear program. As VOA's Jeff Seldin reports, many are hopeful that the negotiations could end years of animosity between the West and Iran.
Iranians at home and those living abroad are closely watching international talks this week aimed at ending Iran's controversial nuclear program.  Many are hopeful that the negotiations could end years of animosity between the West and Iran.   

On a university campus in Virginia, in the Washington suburbs, this graduate student - we'll call him Ali to protect his identity - pursues his studies and is keeping close watch on nuclear talks half a world away.

Ali is Iranian and American.

"It is a burden.  A lot of us do worry if the conflict might escalate to the point where there might be war," he said.  "I do fear for the livelihood of some of my friends."

Recent Developments:

  • January:  International Atomic Energy Agency (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.
  • 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.
  • November: Iran holds two rounds of talks with world powers. Ayatollah Ali Khameni warns Iran will not retreat on its nuclear rights.
Like many Iranians, Ali fears repercussions for his family in Iran if he is identified talking to U.S. media.  What he'd like most is for the anger and the animosity to finally go away.

“We want to see things normalized so we don’t feel a tension within ourselves, whether things are going to be safe," he said.

Born in the U.S., Ali grew up in Tehran, where his father still lives and where he says friends struggle to make a living as Western sanctions weigh heavily on the faltering economy... and on the minds of many Iranians.

"We hope that, God willing, they reach a deal and the sanctions are lifted," said Tehran resident Mohammadi.

Such sentiments of hope have been echoed repeatedly to Arash Sigarchi, host of VOA Persian's Straight Talk call-in show which hears from people in Tehran.

“If Iran can solve the problem they can find better job, they can receive more money," he said. "Because right now they are frustrated because of the sanctions and they are looking for new window to find better life in Iran."

Still, there are many in Iran who are wary of a deal with the West.  Iranian TV this week showed hundreds of students forming a human chain around Iran's Fordo enrichment facility in support of Iran's nuclear activities.

There's also Ali's father, in Tehran, from the generation that took part in the Iranian revolution.

“He’s hopeful that things will get better, but he is largely skeptical of American intentions - what will they demand in order to have some sort of settlement or peace," he said.

Knowing both American and Iranian cultures, Ali remains hopeful.

“It will cause more inner peace for myself in a way to know there is not going to be a conflict and that I could just easily move between here and home [Iran] and just feel comfortable," he said.

Waiting for the time when he is no longer caught between two worlds.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is national security correspondent. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

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Comment Sorting
by: Change Iran Now from: USA
November 23, 2013 9:39 PM

While the UN negotiates with Iran over the country's nuclear program, human right is not on the agenda. The UN General Assembly must pass a resolution reiterating its demands that Iran halt violations against its citizenry.

Iran remains the world’s leading executioner per capita and has put to death some 588 Iranian citizens. Hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience remain imprisoned for their peaceful dissent, while women and minorities continue to face institutionalized discrimination and in some cases, persecution. Also, severe restrictions on the freedom of conscience, religion, expression, assembly and association remain
firmly in place. Such crimes against humanity must not go unheeded.

by: Change Iran Now from: USA
November 21, 2013 11:18 PM
Sanctions against Iran should be relaxed only after the machinery and materials necessary to develop a nuclear weapon are destroyed or moved out of the country. Additionally, nuclear negotiations MUST include the release of all Iranian political prisoners including the 7 Camp Ashraf residents taken hostage under the direction of Iran’s religious fascists. The UN, the EU, the U.S. must pressure the government of Iraq until it releases the seven hostages. All of the residents are protected persons under the Geneva Convention. The US and the UN has clear responsibility in protecting them, but failed to do so when it had left the Iranian dissidents living in the camp to the mercy of the Iranian subordinates. Such crimes against humanity must not go unheeded.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
November 21, 2013 11:07 AM
It's a hope, it's a wish. But the hopes and wishes of the Iranians can best be weighed by the human chains students - the future of Iran surrounding the Foddo plant. That is their choice, not the choice of the Iranians abroad who may be protecting themselves in case their host countries behave like their home government to punish opposition. It happened in 1979, the future is bleak as long as the young ones out there still want war with the west. The only possible goodnews of it is that they were a few hundred idiots. But who knows how many more of them will become brainwashed or radicalized in the future to become more anti-west and anti-civilization? Therefore sympathy and emotion should be put aside to treat the issue on ground on its merit. For now Iran remains parriah, and courting Iran is like playing with the cobra. This Iran's nuclear issue should be approached with the strictest posture possible to ensure Iran is forced to comply with civilized ethics before it is readmitted into the comity of nations.

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