News / Middle East

Potentially Decisive Iran Nuclear Talks Open

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (2nd R) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 20, 2013.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (2nd R) speaks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) before the start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 20, 2013.
Al Pessin
Iran's supreme leader says Tehran will not retreat on what he called the country's nuclear rights during negotiations with six world powers that resumed Wednesday in Geneva.

Speaking ahead of the latest round of talks on Iran's nuclear program,  Ayatollah Ali Khameni said he set "red lines" for his negotiators, but also that Iran wants to be friendly with all nations, including the United States.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Germany, want an interim agreement that calls for Iran to stop some of its enrichment activity and accept more inspections in return for limited sanctions relief.

Recent Developments:

2012
  • January:  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirms Iran is refining uranium to 20% fissile purity.
  • February:  UN inspectors end talks in Tehran without inspecting disputed military site at Parchin.
  • April:  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows Iran will not surrender its nuclear rights.
  • May:  UN inspectors report they found find traces significantly upgraded uranium at an Iranian site.
  • July:  EU begins total ban on Iranian oil imports; US expands sanctions.
  • September:  IAEA demands access to Parchin; Iran calls EU sanctions "irresponsible."
  • December:  IAEA says it makes progress in talks with Iran.  US imposes more sanctions.
2013
  • January:  Iran says it will speed up nuclear fuel work.
  • February: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejects direct nuclear talks with the U.S. Iran and world powers meet, agree to more talks.
  • May: IAEA says Iran has expanded nuclear activity.
  • September: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will not seek weapons of mass destruction.  Iran and world powers agree to resume nuclear talks.
  • October: Iran holds talks with five permanent members of U.N. Security Council and Germany.
  • November: Iran holds two rounds of talks with world powers. Ayatollah Ali Khameni warns Iran will not retreat on its nuclear rights.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday. It is the third time in five weeks that the international team, led by the European Union, has gathered in Geneva to meet with Iran's foreign minister and his team.

They nearly reached agreement 10-days ago, and European Union spokesman Michael Mann said it could happen this time, but he was not making any promises.

“There are key issues that have to be sorted out, and we will take the time that it takes to try and sort those out,” Mann said in an interview with VOA's Persian service.

Key points

Last time, Zarif criticized the U.N. negotiators for changing course, a move widely attributed to French insistence on some key points.

But during a stop in Italy on his way here, Zarif expressed optimism for this round.

“I go to Geneva with the determination to come out with an agreement at the end of this round," he said. "I'm sure that, with the necessary political will, we can certainly make progress and even reach an agreement.”

Iran claims a right to enrich uranium, a potentially dangerous process which the United States says does not exist for any country, although the international community accepts many countries' peaceful nuclear programs.

In an Internet video released on Tuesday, Zarif had a line that gave some analysts hoped for a solution to that dispute.

“Rights are not granted," he said. "And since they are not granted, they cannot be seized.”

That could imply that Iran would not insist on an explicit acknowledgment of a right to enrich, as long as any agreement did not prevent it from enriching, analysts said.

“It will be a very tricky task of finding exactly the right wording that does essentially allow Iran to save face and go back to its people and say that it has really maintained its national independence and sovereignty,” said Alison Baily, a Middle East analyst for the consulting firm Oxford Analytica in London.

Uranium enrichment

Uranium enrichment is important for generating power and for medical research, two things Iran says it wants to do with its nuclear program. But taken to the extreme, enrichment can create weapons-grade uranium.

Iran has come close to producing that, and built extensive, secure and previously secret enrichment facilities, raising fears it wants to build a nuclear bomb, although Iranian officials say they have no such intention.

That resulted in severe international economic sanctions intended to convince Iran's government to negotiate an end to that part of its nuclear program, and allow inspections to prove it.

The hardship caused by the sanctions was a key issue in June, when Iranian voters elected the relatively moderate government that is now pursuing negotiations.

The immediate goal is a first-stage accord that officials say would freeze Iran's program, and roll back parts of it, in return for limited sanctions relief.

That would probably involve the release of some Iranian money held in international banks, but not any easing of trade embargoes or banking restrictions.

Then negotiations would begin on an expected six-month timetable to try to reach a full agreement to verifiably limit Iran's nuclear program and gradually end all sanctions.

If the negotiations fail, there is a danger that Iran will come so close to being able to build a nuclear bomb that the United States or Israel will decide to take military action to prevent the final steps.

But that could trigger a regional war, and experts say would only delay Iran's program, not end it.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday these negotiations were a test of whether armed conflict could be avoided, and he called it a test worth conducting

“Let's test, the proposition that over the next six months we can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion while maintaining the essential sanctions architecture and, as President of the United States, me maintaining all options to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons," he said.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: USMC from: USA
November 20, 2013 11:47 AM
Kerry... LOL... what a fool...!!! we need Bolton or Rumsfeld or Bush to show the Iranian ugliness what is what...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid