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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid