News / Middle East

Negotiations Set to Resume on Iran's Nuclear Program

Meredith Buel

For the first time in more than a year, Iranian negotiators are scheduled to meet next week (December 6th and 7th) with representatives of six world powers in Geneva to discuss concerns about the nation's nuclear program. The Obama administration is still committed to negotiating with Tehran, but some analysts believe chances for a diplomatic breakthrough are slim.

The negotiations will include the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. The European Union's top foreign policy official, Catherine Ashton, will lead the delegation, while Iran will be represented by its chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Iran's agreement to return to negotiations is encouraging. "This is an opportunity for Iran to come to the table and discuss the matters that are of concern to the international community, first and foremost their nuclear program," she said.

Some officials say the willingness of Iran to engage in talks may be an indication that new and tougher sanctions, approved last June, are having an impact on its troubled economy.

Senior U.S. officials say the sanctions have already cost the Tehran government billions of dollars in energy investments and have left Iran virtually frozen out of the international financial system.

Ambassador Dennis Ross, a Special Assistant to U.S. President Barack Obama, says the administration still wants to engage Iran and resolve differences though diplomacy. "Now is the time for Iran to be ready to talk seriously, we are. Now is the time for Iran to respect its own people and to restore the respect of the international community. Now is the time for Iran to signal its goodwill and if it does that, it will find that its goodwill is be matched by ours," he said.

A major issue facing negotiators is whether to revive a proposal made last year for the United States, Russia and France to assist Iran in getting new fuel for a medical research reactor.

The plan would require Iran to ship out a large percentage of its low enriched uranium in exchange for nuclear fuel to produce medical isotopes for cancer patients.

That deal fell apart and Robin Wright, a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says there is mounting concern about Iran's nuclear program. "The talks come at a time of unprecedented international frustration over Iran's nuclear program and the failure of Iran after many years to fully comply with the international community, with the UN watchdog agency (International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA), and reassure the international community of its claim that its intentions are only peaceful."

The U.S. and some of its allies believe Iran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran denies this, saying it is enriching uranium to produce nuclear fuel.

Some recently released U.S. diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks website highlight a growing anxiety among Arab nations about Iran's nuclear program.

Some Arab leaders are quoted as urging the United States to use military force to destroy the facilities.

Karim Sadjadpour, who is an associate with the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says the leaked documents add to the lack of trust between Iran and the United States. "Within Iran there is even a greater sense of suspicion about U.S. intentions in the aftermath of these WikiLeaks, which they view as kind of a concerted, concocted policy of the CIA. I would argue, probably, that the likelihood of some type of diplomatic breakthrough is very, very slim," he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the documents as American psychological warfare and says his country's relations with its neighbors will not be hurt by the leaks.

Alireza Nader, an international policy analyst at the Rand Corporation, specializes in Iran's political dynamics.

Nader says there is significant doubt that those who hold power in Iran will support any agreement talks might produce on the country's nuclear program. "I think the key question is whether the Islamic Republic is serious about any sort of engagement. If you look at Iran's leadership, including (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei and the top echelon of the Revolutionary Guards, any sort of opening to the United States poses an ideological, political and economic threat to those ruling the regime. So we have to ask if the Iranian government ever went into negotiations with any consideration of resolving the issue."

Mr. Ahmadinejad says his country is ready to hold talks, but will not make concessions about its right to a nuclear program.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid