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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora