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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid