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

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    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.
    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.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.