News / Middle East

    Iran Nuclear Talks May Include Sanctions Relief

    Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (R) meets with Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili in Almaty, Kazakhstan, February. 25, 2013.
    Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev (R) meets with Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili in Almaty, Kazakhstan, February. 25, 2013.
    Officials from six world powers may offer Iran some sanctions relief during talks Tuesday in Kazakhstan if Tehran agrees to address international concerns about its controversial nuclear program.

    Reports of the sanctions relief come from European and American sources before the meeting in Almaty between Iranian nuclear officials and the so-called P5+1 group of nations - the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

    For years, the international community has been trying to persuade Iran to curb its uranium enrichment activities. The United States and the European Union believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.

    Enriched uranium

    Low-enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear power plants, but highly-enriched uranium is an integral part of a nuclear bomb.

    Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm, said that since the last round of talks in June of last year, Iran has continued to make gradual but steady progress with its uranium enrichment program.

    “It has installed additional centrifuges in its Fordow nuclear complex, the underground fortified complex,” Kimball said. “That facility is now at capacity with nearly 3,000 centrifuges, though only about less than one-third of those are actually spinning.”

    The International Atomic Energy Agency said recently that Iran has begun to install a new generation of centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment plant and the agency said Tehran continues to enrich uranium at 20 percent.

    Experts say weapons-grade uranium has to be enriched to a 90 percent concentrated level to be used as the explosive material in a nuclear bomb.

    Many experts, including Joel Rubin with the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, say Iran is still a ways off in its presumed quest to produce nuclear weapons.

    “The concern, however, is that Iran is putting in the building blocks to have the capability to make a dash for the bomb,” Rubin said, “that it is installing advanced centrifuges and perfecting the enrichment process to the point where if it were to decide, then it would have a shorter window for breakout. But we are not at that point yet.”

    International sanctions

    In an effort to pressure Iran to end its uranium enrichment program, over the past few years, the United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran.  In addition, several other nations, including the United States, have imposed their own measures.

    The Associated Press and Reuters report that sources in the EU and the U.S. say there could be an easing of sanctions if Iran is ready to bargain.

    "The window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot by definition remain open forever. But it is open today. It is open now," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference in London. "There is still time but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and negotiate in good faith."

    Analyst Rubin and others said sanctions have hit the Iranian economy hard.

    “What these sanctions have done is beyond the penalties that they have inflicted, they have also rallied international unity on the question of Iran’s nuclear program,” said Rubin. “China and Russia are very much invested in these sanctions as well as the European Union, in addition to the United States.”

    Experts said the question is what steps will Iran be willing to take - such as curtailing uranium enrichment - in exchange for easing sanctions?

    Bruce Laingen was the senior American diplomat in Tehran when he and 51 other Americans were taken hostage by Iranians in 1979 and held for 444 days. He said the Almaty meeting is important simply because it is taking place.

    “Diplomacy is always the way to go," he said. "I’m a diplomat. I’ve lived with this issue for a long time. It’s an available tool which is always there - diplomacy is talk, talking between the principals involved.”

    “But nothing will come of it until the principals involved get some degree of encouragement from the leadership in both countries," he added "You can’t have a diplomatic process unless there is some degree of moderation, compromise, on the part of both sides.”

    Many analysts don’t expect much progress to be achieved at the Almaty talks since Iran is scheduled to have presidential elections in June. Experts said that makes it hard for Iranian officials to make any concessions at these talks.

    Andre de Nesnera

    Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Malek Towghi, Ph.D. from: Michigan, USA
    February 25, 2013 5:24 PM
    In order to reassure Tehran -- and the Iranian people -- that the talks are not aimed at one-sided benefits for the West as usual, immediate and tangible sanction relief for Iran must be a part of the package.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora