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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.