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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora