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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More