News / Middle East

Analysts: Steady Progress Needed in Iran Nuclear Talks

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani waves to participants while he attends a ceremony to mark the beginning of the universities academic year, at the Tehran University, in Tehran, Iran, Oct. 14, 2013.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani waves to participants while he attends a ceremony to mark the beginning of the universities academic year, at the Tehran University, in Tehran, Iran, Oct. 14, 2013.
Fresh talks on Iran's nuclear program need to make steady progress in order to convince Washington that Tehran is serious about making concessions, analysts say.

The so-called P5+1 talks that got underway Tuesday in Geneva are bolstered by new optimism, thanks in part to a series of recent conciliatory gestures by Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani.

Although it is not clear what Iran is prepared to offer, Rouhani and his administration have suggested they are willing to make concrete concessions to prove to the West that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.

Barry Pavel, the director of the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, says the talks represent a "very important opportunity," but he does not expect a breakthrough at the outset.

"I don't think you're going to get a deal in the first session," said Pavel in an interview with VOA. "On the other hand, I wouldn't let it drag on too long. Because the more it drags on, the more it smells like previous Iranian and North Korean tactics."

Pavel, an ex-defense policy adviser to U.S. President Barack Obama, said the White House should not ignore the example set by North Korea, which has used talks with the West to buy more time to develop nuclear weapons.

"The North Koreans did a very good job of playing for time, bargaining, ultimately coming to a deal, breaking the deal, and continuing all the time to develop nuclear weapons. And they're assessed to have six to 12 [nuclear weapons] now," said Pavel.

If the U.S. and Iran do not reach a deal after three months, in Pavel's estimation, "then we'll know that they're not serious and that this is continuing to play for time."

Mark Fitzpatrick, the director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is reluctant to put a deadline on the talks. But he warns the U.S. and Israel may run out of patience if there is no progress by next summer.

"I think there's probably a window of opportunity that might be six months to one year during which if Iran doesn't agree to restrict its program, I think there'll be more talk of a military option," he said.

Fitzpatrick, who has followed both the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs very closely, argues there is little need to be worried that Tehran will follow Pyongyang's lead in using the talks as a stalling tactic.

"They're doing that anyway. With or without negotiations, their centrifuges are spinning and they're increasing their capability. So it's far better to have negotiations to at least try to put limits on this program," Fitzpatrick said.

And putting limits on the Iranian nuclear program is as much as can be expected, says Fitzpatrick, who thinks there is no realistic scenario in which Tehran agrees to dismantle its nuclear facilities, as Libya did following Western pressure in the 2000s.

"Yes, of course, the Libya option would be ideal, a process of negotiations with a leader who doesn't have to have anybody within his country raising objections. But [late Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi was a dictator, he could agree to deal, and he agreed to dismantle his program."

The situation in Iran is understood to be more complex, with President Rouhani only able to offer that which is approved by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Rouhani insists he has been given full authority by the supreme leader to resolve the nuclear issue.

U.S. officials said they are encouraged by Tehran's more moderate tone, but that they are waiting for concrete actions, and not just words, before they will begin to roll back the economic sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs