News / Middle East

2014 Will Test Changes in Iran

2014 Will Test Changes in Irani
X
December 17, 2013
2013 was a year of major changes for Iran, with the election of a more moderate president and agreement with the international community to limit its nuclear program. But experts say the real test for the extent of the changes will come in 2014, when Iran will be called on to make more, and more permanent, policy changes. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
TEXT SIZE - +
Al Pessin
— The year 2013 saw major changes for Iran, with the election of a  more moderate president and agreement with the international community to limit its nuclear program. But experts say the real test for the extent of the changes will come in 2014, when Iran will be called on to make additional, more permanent, policy changes.  

It was a remarkable moment in November when the Iranian foreign minister and his counterparts from six world powers reached a preliminary agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program and to ease economic sanctions.  

It capped a year of dramatic change in Iran.
 
Just a year ago, then President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was still engaging in his harsh rhetoric against the West and refusing to hold substantive talks on the nuclear program, as mismanagement and economic sanctions crippled Iran’s economy.
 
Then, in June, Iranian voters elected a relative moderate, Hassan Rouhani, to replace him.  And just as significantly, Iran’s Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, publicly backed Rouhani's new approach.
 
All that culminated in the nuclear accord in Geneva in November.    
 
“Well, I do see it as a dramatic difference, but I caution that we shouldn’t over-estimate what’s going on,” said retired U.S. diplomat Richard LeBaron, now at the Atlantic Council. "I think 2014 will be the key year in determining whether Iran is on a strategic change of course. But so far, I think it’s a tactical move.”
 
LeBaron predicts a resumption of the internal struggle between hardliners and moderates, as Iran is called on to make more concessions to reach a long-term nuclear accord.

At London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies, Mark Fitzpatrick says the coming months will focus on negotiations, not talk of war.
 
“If Iran’s nuclear program had not been at least capped, it was making progress that would have crossed Israel’s red lines, I think, by next summer, and we very well could have had a military option being exercised,” Fitzpatrick said.
 
Fitzpatrick and LeBaron both doubt Iranian leaders’ assurances that they have no interest in building a nuclear weapon. The experts say officials likely want to maintain the option for the future, while also getting sanctions eased to satisfy their people.

Fitzpatrick says it’s a question of how many restrictions Iran will accept, and how long it would take to develop a weapons if it decides to do so. “Will they accept as long of a lead time as the United States would want, in order to feel comfortable?  That’s going to be the tricky part in the discussions that are upcoming.”
 
Those talks have a six-month deadline that many experts say will be difficult to meet. Even incremental progress could ease concerns in the Middle East and in the West and might even open the possibility of cooperation on other issues, particularly Syria. But deadlock would likely recreate the tensions of recent years.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid