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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid