News / Middle East

Thorny Issues Remain for Iran Nuclear Negotiators

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second right, arrives  for  talks over Iran's nuclear program in Geneva, Nov. 22, 2013.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, second right, arrives for talks over Iran's nuclear program in Geneva, Nov. 22, 2013.
— The interim deal between world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions has been hailed by the Obama administration as “an important first step.”

It took two thorny rounds to seal the deal. But analysts say the next steps to ensure that Tehran’s nuclear program will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes may prove more difficult.

The interim agreement freezes for six months Iran’s nuclear program.

“It requires Iran to halt the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent and to begin to convert its existing stockpile of 20 percent material," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. "It requires that Iran does not make any further advances with respect to the number of centrifuges or the types of centrifuges that are installed at its facilities. It also halts significant activity at the Arak heavy water complex.”

The Arak facility is under construction and could, when completed, produce plutonium, which like highly-enriched uranium, is an important component of a nuclear bomb.

Iran has long insisted that its nuclear program is meant only for peaceful purposes, however, such as generating electricity.

Western monitoring

Kimball said the interim agreement also provides for the West to monitor Iran’s nuclear activities.

“Very importantly, it gives the International Atomic Energy Agency unprecedented access to key Iranian nuclear sites on a daily basis, which in our estimation effectively prevents any possibility of Iran trying to break out without detection,” he said.

In other words, the new inspections make it virtually impossible for Iran to work on a nuclear weapon without the West’s knowledge.

In exchange for these concessions, Tehran received some relief from crippling economic and financial sanctions.

Joel Rubin, an expert on Iran with the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, said Iran will need more.

“Iran got modest sanctions relief estimated to be $6 billion or $7 billion of funds primarily out of frozen accounts of Iranian revenue from oil sales, as well as a modest amount of petrochemical sales allowed and gold sales allowed,” he said. “But the infrastructure of the sanctions regime currently in place over Iran’s head will remain.”

New talks more challenging

In the coming months, negotiators will try to fashion a comprehensive agreement imposing permanent limits on Iran’s nuclear program.

Many analysts say these talks will be far more challenging and difficult.

“The key issue is going to be 'to what extent is Iran willing to reduce its uranium enrichment capacity?'" said Kimball, the arms control expert. "What will it agree to do to shelve some of the other worrisome projects like the Arak heavy water reactor that could theoretically produce plutonium for weapons - and in exchange for what amount of relief from the existing sanctions regime?"

"That is a very tough negotiation," he added.

Analyst Rubin said complex concerns remain. "The primary issues for the international community will be to look at the number of centrifuges, the quality of centrifuges, the locations where Iran is enriching fuel and where its nuclear infrastructure is - to get a handle on that and to discuss the level of centrifuges and infrastructure that they can have,” he said.
 
He added that “there will be discussions about the inspections regime, adhering to international protocols and ensuring that Iran makes it absolutely clear that its physical nuclear program can only be used for peaceful purposes.”

Iran will be looking for the West to ease more sanctions and eventually eliminate them altogether.

Analysts say it will take a great deal of diplomatic skill and a willingness to compromise to make this next round of talks a success.



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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hassan Mazandari from: Iran
November 26, 2013 5:34 PM
Iran has been executing thousands and thousands of Arab and indigenous minorities who where systematically suppressed by the Iranian clerical regime for decades. The "final solution" for the religious Arab minorities in Iran has been in progress for decades - the "West" has known about it and has done NOTHING to prevent it from progressing. and now Obama legitimized the murderous clerical ruling corruption of Iran. If you think that this is just a local Iranian problem that will never affect you... - you do not understand Iranian regime.

In Response

by: Anonymous
November 27, 2013 7:43 AM
Iran has been guilty of Ethnic Cleansing for decades... but the "West" as you call them is completely disoriented by the incredible incompetence coming from the United States.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid