News / Middle East

Key Technical Issues Remain in Iran Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second left, meets with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, center, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, third right, at the Iran Nuclear talks in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 9, 201
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second left, meets with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, center, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, third right, at the Iran Nuclear talks in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 9, 201
As Iranian and Western negotiators move closer to a deal limiting Iran’s nuclear capability, key continuing issues need to be resolved.

It seemed in early November that an agreement was at hand after top Western diplomats, including U.S. Secretary John Kerry, flew to Geneva to meet Iranian officials.

Negotiations are now set to resume on November 20 in Geneva. Western and Iranian officials have given indications a framework is within reach to limit Iran’s capability to build a nuclear weapon.

The international community has been trying for years to persuade Iran to end its uranium enrichment program - but with little success. Low enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear power plants but highly-enriched uranium is an integral part of a nuclear bomb.

Uranium enrichment key

Jim Walsh, Iran expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says the core of the deal is the uranium enrichment issue.

“No one wants Iran to have a big pile of 20 percent enriched uranium sitting around that might later quickly be converted and further enriched to bomb-grade uranium,”  Walsh said. “So if Iran is not producing anymore 20 per cent enrichment and if it disposes of the 20 percent it has already produced - that is a big non-proliferation win.”

Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm, said 20 percent enrichment gives Iran more than normal reactor fuel grades but not quite weapons grade.

“Western nations also want to stop the introduction of additional centrifuges into the two main enrichment facilities - Natanz and Fordow," he said. "They also would like to dispose of or ship out of the country the existing 20 percent enriched material as well as perhaps some of the low enriched uranium that the Iranians have accumulated.”

Plutonium production caution

Joel Rubin, expert on Iran with the Ploughshares Fund, a foundation specializing in nuclear weapons policy, said another Western demand is for Iran to stop construction of the Arak plutonium production facility. Plutonium is a key component of a nuclear weapon.

“A plutonium facility is above ground, unlike these uranium enrichment facilities. So it’s more easily monitored and would require a reprocessing facility that has not yet been constructed,” Rubin said.

“And it’s estimated that it won’t be completed - this one - until sometime in 2014 at the earliest and then the reprocessing would take more time after that," he said. "But that is a concern - the question is why does Iran need a plutonium facility?”

Sanctions relief wanted

For its part, Iran is looking for substantial relief from the crippling international sanctions that have hurt the country’s economy and financial sector, driving up unemployment and inflation.

Daryll Kimball with the Arms Control Association said Western nations - known as the P5+1 - are willing to ease some sanctions as long as Iran does its part.

“The P5+1 are believed to be offering relief on sanctions involving trade in aircraft parts, automobile parts, trade in gold and precious metals," he said. "And the P5+1 may also be contemplating the release of frozen Iranian assets in banks around the world, assets from oil trading over the past several years.”

“This totals tens of billions of dollars and the P5+1 could gradually release some of those funds as Iran takes concrete steps to limit their programs,” Kimball said.


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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Willie from: Argentina
November 13, 2013 2:15 PM
PEACE, SHALOM, SALAM, PAZ. A four same words, a same shared wish, a same and only God. Happy next holidays of Xmas, and new year 2014, we sure hope better than this, to everybody.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid