News / Middle East

Iran, World Powers Focus In on Final Deal

Iran, World Powers Focus In on Final Deali
February 13, 2014 3:52 PM
Negotiators from Iran and six world powers are preparing for the next round of nuclear talks scheduled to open next week ((Tuesday, February 18)) in Vienna. The ambitious goal is to reach a final agreement aimed at ensuring Tehran cannot build nuclear weapons -- in exchange for an end to sanctions that have battered Iran's economy. VOA's Jeff Seldin reports.
Iran, World Powers Focus In on Final Deal
International diplomacy with Iran over its controversial nuclear program enters a thorny phase as on Tuesday when negotiators from Iran and six world powers gather for talks in Vienna.

Just three months ago in Geneva, there were smiles and optimism when Iran and the so-called P5+1 -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S., plus Germany – agreed on an interim nuclear deal, which called on Iran to put curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief.  
The agreement went into effect January 20, setting in motion an ambitious six-month countdown during which the sides must negotiate a comprehensive deal that would ensure Tehran cannot build nuclear weapons in exchange for an end to the international sanctions that have battered Iran's economy.  
But the initial optimism has waned, with U.S. President Barack Obama signaling the United States is only willing to go so far. There are major questions as to how much Iran will give in and how much the West will tolerate.  
“Next week’s talks in Vienna will be an opportunity for Iran to show that it is serious about a comprehensive solution that assures the world that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only,” Obama said last week during a news conference with French President Francois Hollande.
“If they meet what technically gives us those assurances then there's a deal to be potentially made,” he said. “If they don't, there isn't."

Iran stands firm
Iran has remained equally resolute.
“The movement of the Iranian nation towards the peaks of scientific and technical progress and advancement, including peaceful nuclear technology, will be forever," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told thousands of Iranians packed into Tehran’s Azadi Square for a speech marking the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution.
Rouhani also dismissed the notion that world powers – and Israel - would ultimately resort to military action against Iran.
"I say explicitly to those delusional people who say the military option is on the table, that they should change their glasses," Rouhani said. “There is no military threat against our nation on any table in the world.”

Analysts say many sticking points remain.
“The biggest obstacle will be in satisfying both sides that they’ve given just enough to reach agreement,” former U.S. Ambassador Richard LeBaron told VOA. “We’re going to need quite a bit more than the Iranians have envisioned so far in terms of assurances and in terms of intrusive inspections.”
LeBaron believes that will be a tough sell in Tehran, where some officials and hardline politicians may find such an impingement on Iranian sovereignty completely unacceptable.

Doubts remain
Severe doubts about reaching an acceptable, comprehensive deal also continue unabated in the West, where some U.S. lawmakers have argued the threat of further sanctions against Tehran would strengthen Washington’s hand in the upcoming negotiations.
“We’re never going to be satisfied until we ensure that Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons capabilities,” U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez told VOA.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has supported additional sanctions, points to Iran's continued pursuit of ballistic missile technology -- which could be used to deliver a nuclear weapon -- as a sign Iran is not serious about a deal.
“The only reason why you develop that capability is to deliver a nuclear payload, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon against somebody else, far away,” he said in a speech to Senate colleagues earlier this month.  
That type of rhetoric has not gone over well with Iran, which has said it would view any new sanctions as a violation of the interim agreement.
"Unfortunately the way Americans have behaved in the past couple of months hasn't helped create trust," Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said recently.
“Our people don't trust Americans,” he said. “The Iranian delegation and Iranian officials don't trust (Americans either).”

Gaining trust difficult

Establishing a level of trust necessary for a final deal will likely be difficult, despite the ability of all sides to reach the interim deal, analysts say.
“Success in the past doesn’t guarantee success in the future, though, especially since Iran learns from being caught, learns to hide things better,” said analyst David Albright.
Albright, a former nuclear inspector who has testified about iran multiple times before the U.S. Congress, warns a key problem remains: enforcement.
“The focus has been on getting to a deal somehow and then what would be in it and then will Iran implement it,” he said.  “Can you catch cheating?”
But some analysts say economic sanctions have already taken such a toll on Iran that a final nuclear deal may be inevitable.  
“If President Rouhani wants to ensure a meaningful economic recovery for Iranians he is going to have to come to the negotiating table and meet the demands of the international community,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Already, the easing of some sanctions has had investors starting to explore opportunities in Iran, which hosted a delegation of French businessmen recently.  Iran has been actively looking for loopholes in the sanctions, reaching out to Turkey and Russia.  
Still, Obama has warned Washington will ‘come down like a ton of bricks” on any companies or individuals who violate the many sanctions that remain in place.
And earlier this month U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman warned of the high stakes facing Tehran.
“If it fails to live up to its commitments, or if we are unable to reach agreement on a comprehensive solution, we would ask Congress to ramp up new sanctions immediately,” she said.

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.

You May Like

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

Indian PM Calls for Unity Amid Tense Climate Over Beef Attacks

Recent series of beef-related incidents seen as signs of rising intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities More

Why These Are New York City's Most Treasured Spaces

Under threat of jail time and fines, some New York property owners are not allowed to renovate their spaces without prior approval More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
February 17, 2014 2:11 AM
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the world on numerous occasion about the deceitfulness and hypocrisy of President Rouhani, Prime Minister Netanyahu went on to warned the world about President Rouhani working in the past Government, and also he was one of the key figure of the Iranian revolution. And this man during the past Government, they carry out lot of terrorism act against the US.
what Mr. Obama thinks, this man love America?Mr. Rouhani primary motive is to harm and destroy the US and Israel. Mr. Obama needs to watch middle eastern TV, and let him hear and see the hateful speeches those people chant against the US and Israel.
On 02/12/14, the Iranian military chief said in an interview that his country is ready for war with the US and Israel. I dont know if Mr. Obama is afraid or he is bluffing, But diplomacy cannot with such a people. Those people come on the Nation and international TV and say boldly, without any intimidation, saying they will attack the US, they went as far by deploying the war ship on the US coast, ready to strike the US anytime.(IF A BLIND MAN SAYS, HE IS GOING TO STONE YOU, HE ALREADY HAS THE STONE IN HIS HANDS) Those Iranian people have perpetual hatred for the US. And if we dont act, sooner or later, the world will wake up with something in their hands that they cannot handle. A hint to a wise is sufficient. God Bless America

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs