News / Middle East

Iran Nuclear Talks Under a Time Pressure

Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi (L) and IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Safeguards, Tero Tapio Varjoranta talk to the media in Vienna, Austria, Oct. 29, 2013.
Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA, Reza Najafi (L) and IAEA Deputy Director General, Head of the Department of Safeguards, Tero Tapio Varjoranta talk to the media in Vienna, Austria, Oct. 29, 2013.
Al Pessin
A senior U.S. official in Geneva has expressed optimism about the talks on Iran's nuclear program that resume there on Thursday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters there have been "very detailed discussions" and the two sides are heading towards a first stage agreement. The United Nations contact group and Iran are working on mutual first steps toward stopping aspects of Iran's nuclear program and easing international sanctions.

The first round of talks, just three weeks ago, was praised by both sides for having a new atmosphere and for a potentially useful new Iranian proposal. With a total of seven nations and the European Union sending delegations to the talks, no one provided details on the proposal, which negotiators said was a sign of the seriousness of the discussions.

From what little is known, Iran wants to agree on the ultimate target of the talks and also on a series of intermediate steps designed to build mutual trust and ease economic sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

The United Nations delegation - made up of the five permanent Security Council members and Germany, and led by the EU - wants guarantees that Iran's nuclear program will not lead to the production of a nuclear bomb.

Analysts believe Iran is already dangerously close to doing that, and the United States and Israel have threatened military action to stop the potential final stages of development.

Key questions include whether Iran will provide enough transparency and accept enough restrictions on its nuclear program to satisfy the U.N. team, and whether the international community will ease sanctions quickly enough to satisfy hardliners in Iran.

Many experts are skeptical, but in an interview, the chief U.S. negotiator, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, told VOA's Persian News Network she saw “a very different approach” in the last round of talks.

“We are beginning to understand each other, to see each other’s needs and the aspirations of the people of each of our countries. And I think that’s very valuable," said Sherman.

Sherman says there are other issues on which the United States and Iran can work together but only after the nuclear dispute is resolved. Analysts say potentially chief among those issues is the Syrian civil war.

In this week's talks, the negotiators will review the results of a technical meeting last week, intended to clarify some aspects of the Iranian proposal. The topics are extremely technical, involving levels of enrichment of nuclear fuel and the eventual unraveling of complex sanctions.

One achievement of the new approach has been a reduction in talk of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran has slowed its enrichment and research activities, but Professor Alexandre Vautravers of the Geneva Center for Security Policy says talk of war will return if these negotiations do not make significant progress fairly quickly.

“The greatest risk is slowing down the process or stalling the process, because, let’s be very clear, we’re talking on a window of opportunity.  This window of opportunity may all of a sudden close.  We have to be cognizant and aware of this time factor, which is extremely critical," said Vautravers.

The negotiators know they are under time pressure and both sides say they are ready to move quickly. The first meeting, last month, was important for starting a new process. This one could indicate whether real progress is possible.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs