News / Middle East

    Slow Progress in IAEA Investigation May Complicate Iran Nuclear Talks

    FILE - Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, about 1,200 kilometers south of Tehran.
    FILE - Iranian workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, about 1,200 kilometers south of Tehran.
    Reuters
    Signs that a U.N. watchdog investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran is making little progress could further complicate broader diplomatic efforts to end the decade-old nuclear dispute that resume in Vienna this week.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency indicated after a three-hour meeting with Iran on Monday that more work was needed to fully implement a series of nuclear transparency measures by Tehran by a Thursday deadline. Iran says it has already done so.

    The IAEA also made clear that no agreement had yet been reached with Iran on what issues to tackle in the next phase of a cooperation pact aimed at allaying fears that the country may have been seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

    The outcome is likely to disappoint Western diplomats, who want Iran to move much faster in addressing the IAEA's questions about alleged activities in the past that could be relevant for any bid to build a nuclear missile. Iran denies any such work.

    “Everybody is fairly frustrated at the lack of progress,” said one Western envoy familiar with the Iran nuclear file.

    The meeting took place before a new round of negotiations between Iran and six world powers, also in the Austrian capital, aimed at reaching a final accord to settle the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions by late July.

    Iran's talks with the IAEA and with the powers are closely linked as both focus on fears that Iran may be covertly seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its uranium enrichment program is a peaceful energy project only.

    Western diplomats say Iran must start engaging with the IAEA's long-stalled investigation and that this is central to the success of the broader negotiations.

    Iran has offered to work with the IAEA in clarifying what the U.N. agency calls the possible military dimensions (PMD) of the country's nuclear program. But diplomats and experts say it would be difficult for Iran to admit to any past activity contradicting its denials of accusations of a bomb agenda.

    “Iran has real problems in addressing the PMD issues,” said the Western diplomat, who is not from one of the six major powers negotiating with Iran - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia.

    There was no immediate comment from Tehran.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton - who leads talks  with Iran on behalf of the powers - were to meet for dinner on Tuesday, ahead of formal negotiations set to run until Friday.

    Wide divide

    Under the cooperation agreement signed with the IAEA in November, Iran was to take seven practical measures by May 15 in a phased process to shed more light on its atomic activities.

    Diplomatic sources told Reuters last Friday that the IAEA was seeking further clarification from Iran about the most sensitive of those steps, concerning fast-acting detonators that can have both military and civilian applications.

    How Iran responds to questions about its development and need of this type of equipment is seen as an important test of its willingness to cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation.

    Iran says it has already implemented the seven steps - including access to two uranium sites - but the sources said  the IAEA still wanted more information about so-called Explosive Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators.

    They said the IAEA also wanted to agree with Iran new measures to be taken after May 15, hoping these will address other sensitive issues linked to its nuclear bomb inquiry.

    However, after Monday's apparently inconclusive meeting, the two sides did not even say when they would meet again.

    Iran wants an end to sanctions that are badly hurting its oil-reliant economy. After years of a vitriolic and confrontational standoff with the West, the election last year of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president created a new atmosphere more conducive to settling disputes via diplomacy.

    But diplomats and experts say Iran and the West remain far apart on what a long-term deal to resolve the dispute and dispel fears of a new Middle East war might look line.

    “It's typical for negotiations to experience bumps, blocks and breakdowns,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies.

    In the Iran-IAEA talks, “the Iranian negotiators have to be wary of appearing to be too cooperative, lest they be accused back home of giving in,” said Fitzpatrick.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    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 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.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.