News / USA

Sanctions Relief Key to Iran Nuclear Talks

Delegations from Iran, other countries at start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks, United Nations offices, Geneva, Oct. 15, 2013.
Delegations from Iran, other countries at start of two days of closed-door nuclear talks, United Nations offices, Geneva, Oct. 15, 2013.
As the most substantive dialogue in years unfolds between Tehran and world powers over its controversial nuclear program, Iran is pushing to have crippling international economic sanctions eased.
 
The Obama administration is indicating some softening, with a chief U.S. official involved in the talks telling VOA recently that the time is coming for a pause in new sanctions.
 
World powers are set to resume talks with Iranian representatives on November 7. The United States and the European Union believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.
 
In an effort to pressure Iran to end its uranium enrichment program, the United Nations Security Council has passed resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran. In addition, the United States and members of the European Union have imposed their own measures.
 
Iranian demands
 
Iran has increased its international politicking in recent weeks, saying in order for talks to advance, sanctions must be lifted. Analysts say the sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy and currency, driving up unemployment and inflation.
 
But John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, said there is no evidence the sanctions have affected Iran’s nuclear program.
 
“We have to the contrary statements by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency [Yukiya Amano], by the Obama administration’s own Director of National Intelligence [James Clapper] earlier this year, that they don’t see any sign that the nuclear weapons program has been affected at all,” Bolton said.
 
Over the years, Western nations and Iran have been engaged in negotiations on Tehran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.
 
Experts say one issue discussed recently was for Tehran to curtail its uranium enrichment program in exchange for easing Western economic and financial sanctions. But little progress was made.
 
At a meeting in Geneva several weeks ago, however, both sides expressed optimism, calling the talks constructive.
 
Analysts say the change in tone is due in large part to the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president — a man who favors engagement with the West.
 
Harshness of sanctions debated
 
As negotiations between Iran and Western powers continue, some U.S. senators are seeking harsher sanctions on Iran if it does not curtail its uranium enrichment program.
 
But Jim Walsh, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says such action would be counterproductive.
 
“It would be very unhelpful for Congress to pass new sanctions in the middle of negotiations," he said. "Imagine if Iran did the same: in the middle of negotiations, it suddenly started to expand its production of 20 percent [enriched uranium] or turned on its new, advanced centrifuges.
 
“We would freak out — the U.S. side would freak out," he added. "They would say 'how can we negotiate with people when they are doing that?' The people who want to support sanctions ought to think about how Iranians will view that if they do the same thing to them.”
 
Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, a private research firm, said harsh measures against Iran can only go so far.
 
“Iran, like any country, is a proud country," Kimball said. "The leaders are proud and the people are proud, and they are not going to capitulate to every demand, even if sanctions are toughened even further. There are limits to what these sanctions can do.”
 
In a recent interview with VOA’s Persian News Network, Wendy Sherman, the chief U.S. negotiator in talks with Iran, called for a delay in any new sanctions, saying that she and others believe the current talks represent the best chance to resolve the nuclear issue.
 
But Joel Rubin, an Iran expert with the Ploughshares Fund, a foundation specializing in nuclear policy, said U.S. President Barack Obama is taking a political risk.
 
“It should not go unnoticed how much of a risk it has been for the Obama administration to continue to argue that a diplomatic solution is the best way forward," he said. "But not only is it a political risk, but it is also a political necessity and it’s a policy necessity.
 
“President Obama can credibly argue that by engaging, he is testing Iran and he is creating a situation where you can point to American leadership through the use of words and pressure and economic tools that do achieve security objectives,”  Rubin said.


Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: PermReader
November 03, 2013 11:35 AM
Subtle headline: sanctions made Iran softer or its relief will make Iran softer.And the smiling auther is cunning: "there is the risk".
Don`t fool us -there is not any risk for some months later Iran will posess the Bomb - the common aim is attained!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs