News / Middle East

Iran-Big Power Nuclear Talks Hit Snag on Centrifuge Research

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif adjusts glasses during joint press conference with Italian counterpart Emma Bonino, Tehran, Dec. 22, 2013.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif adjusts glasses during joint press conference with Italian counterpart Emma Bonino, Tehran, Dec. 22, 2013.
Reuters
Negotiations between Iran and six world powers on implementing a landmark November deal to freeze parts of Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for easing some sanctions have run into problems over advanced centrifuge research, diplomats said.
 
The dispute over centrifuges highlighted the huge challenges facing Iran and the six powers in negotiating the precise terms of the Nov. 24 interim agreement. If they succeed, they plan to start talks on a long-term deal to resolve a more than decade-long dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
 
Among the issues to be resolved in political discussions due to begin in Geneva later this week is that of research and development of a new model of advanced nuclear centrifuge that Iran says it has installed, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
 
Centrifuges are machines that purify uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or, if purified to a high level, weapons.
 
“This issue [centrifuges] was among the main factors in stopping the previous technical discussions on Dec. 19-21,” a Western diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
 
Other Western diplomats confirmed that centrifuges remained a “sticking point” in the talks with Iran but noted that last month's discussions were understandably adjourned ahead of the December holidays - not because of the centrifuge issue.
 
“As part of the [Nov. 24] agreement, Iran is permitted to engage in R&D [research and development], but that is tempered by the fact that it is prohibited to install new centrifuges, except as required by wear and tear,” the first diplomat said.
 
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States was keen to see the interim deal implemented, though she declined to predict the outcome of the latest talks.
 
She said U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman will be in Geneva on Thursday to discuss the issue with her European Union counterpart, Helga Schmid, and Iran's negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi.
 
In December, Al-Monitor, a news website focusing on the Middle East, cited a former U.S. official as saying Iran had notified the six powers it wanted to install additional “IR-2m” centrifuges, modified versions of second-generation machines. The website also said the former U.S. official suggested this may have played a role in the dispute.
 
But diplomats now say Iran has told the six countries it wants to press ahead with the development of even more advanced centrifuges than the IR-2m.
 
Iran is already testing several different new, more efficient centrifuge models at its Natanz research facility, according to the U.N. nuclear watchdog. Iran's statements last month that it was testing a new advanced centrifuge have not made clear whether it is an entirely new model or a modified version of an installed one.

Serious nuclear negotiations
 
Western diplomats said they were uncomfortable with the idea of Iran pressing ahead with the development of more advanced centrifuges. But Iran says centrifuge research is crucial.
 
“We have to make sure our right to research and development is respected,” a senior Iranian government official said on condition of anonymity.
 
The research and development would be aimed at improving Iran's existing centrifuge technology so it can enrich better and faster, a prospect Western governments find worrisome.
 
Iran and the so-called P5+1 - the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China - reached a deal on Nov. 24 in Geneva aimed at curbing the Islamic Republic's most sensitive nuclear work, including medium-level 20 percent uranium enrichment, in return for easing some economic sanctions.
 
Iran is under U.N., U.S. and European Union sanctions for refusing to heed U.N. Security Council demands that it halt all enrichment- and plutonium-related work at its nuclear sites. Tehran rejects Western allegations that it is seeking the capability to produce atomic weapons, saying its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.
 
Nuclear experts from Iran and the six powers have held several rounds of talks since Nov. 24 to resolve various technical issues before the interim deal can be put into place.
 
The experts have to work out when the accord will be implemented. Western diplomats and Iranian officials say the six powers and Iran want to start implementing the deal on Jan. 20.
 
A senior Western diplomat, however, said that despite the disagreements, the latest rounds of talks between Iran and the six powers “actually made pretty good progress.”
 
“There are still, however, some outstanding issues. But we are still aiming to get the interim agreement started on Jan. 20,” he said “We haven't given up hope of that.”
 
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on his Facebook page that Tehran was “very serious” about the Geneva deal. “Serious nuclear negotiations are under way and with strong political will,” he added.
 
Diplomats said the push by Iran to continue advanced centrifuge research and the resistance by Western powers to the idea is not surprising given what it is at stake for all sides.
 
“The gaps which have been making it difficult to reach an agreement clearly reflect the attempts of both sides to improve their status at the last stage before signing the agreement,” the first diplomat said.
 
“Iran seeks maximum maneuvering room in interpreting the agreement, while the U.S. seeks to ensure that this interpretation does not go beyond its understanding of the agreement,” he said. “Either way, the two sides are interested in reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”
 
Israel, which has been highly critical of the six powers' deal with Iran, was not surprised by Iran's attempts to ensure that it could continue with advanced centrifuge research.
 
“It was clear from the outset that the Iranians would play games,” an Israeli official said on condition of anonymity. “They did it in the past, and now they're up to their old tricks again.”
 
Iran's negotiations with Britain, France and Germany in 2003-2005 collapsed after Tehran and the European trio failed to agree on what enrichment-related activities would be permitted under a voluntary suspension of the Iranian enrichment program.

The Europeans accused Tehran at the time of violating the terms of the suspension while Iran said London, Paris and Berlin failed to deliver promised economic incentives and kept trying to expand the scope of the agreed freeze.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Max Ajida from: Pretoria
January 09, 2014 7:49 AM
There is nothing fruitful that will come out with Iran based on nuclear issue. Iran is not willing to give up its nuclear programme. And Iran's nuclear programme its for nuclear arms.Iran is behaving like turtle,taking its head out and smiling to you like you're together but ones it put its head in its shell does what is good for her.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More