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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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