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

Video British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Multimedia Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid