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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora