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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid