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

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    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.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    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 Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    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 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 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 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.