News / Middle East

Tough Talks Ahead on Iran's Nuclear Program

FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
When an interim agreement goes into effect on January 20, world powers and Iran will begin negotiations on a comprehensive plan to ensure that Tehran’s nuclear program will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The interim accord freezes most of Iran’s nuclear program for six months in exchange for some relief from international sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.  Negotiators hope to build on the interim agreement and conclude a comprehensive pact in six months.

Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to two presidents, Gerald Ford (1974-77) and George H.W. Bush (1989-93) said the interim accord, which paved the way for more intense negotiations, is a step forward.

“Whether it will work, I don’t know. But it seems to me that a couple of things have happened - that is the sanctions are hurting Iran economically," Scowcroft said. “And politically, we have had the election of a much more moderate group. Now how much power that moderate group has, it’s difficult to say, because Iran is a very complicated political governing structure. But I think there is an opportunity now.”

Lack of trust

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, who headed U.S. Central Command (1997-2000) for military operations in the Middle East, said a key problem is that there is a lack of trust - not just between the United States and Iran.

“Our allies in the region, not just Israel but certainly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and others, really have no trust in this and are really leery of this agreement,” Zinni said. “I think many of them feel we may want it more than the Iranians want it and it may be just a way to buy time. So there is a long way to go to see if this is a true change in their dealing with us and others in the region.”

Senators want more sanctions

As the six powers and Iran work toward a final agreement, many U.S. senators are threatening more sanctions on Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program. The lawmakers say sanctions brought Tehran to the negotiating table and new measures would force Iran to negotiate in good faith.

President Barack Obama is against new sanctions while the negotiations are ongoing and says he would veto such legislation.

“My preference is for peace and diplomacy and this is one of the reasons why I have sent a message to Congress that now is not the time for us to impose new sanctions - now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work,” he said.

The six-month agreement between Iran and the world powers stipulates no new sanctions by the United Nations, the European Union or the United States. The Iranian government has threatened to boycott the talks if new sanctions are put in place.

General Zinni said U.S. lawmakers should take a “wait and see” attitude.

“Now is not the time to sort of interfere or disrupt what’s going on. Let’s see where it [the talks] goes. Let’s see what the next step is and where it takes us before we preempt our administration’s negotiations,” Zinni said. “I think it is wise of Congress to stay tuned to this thing and to watch it and monitor it - but I think to interfere, until we understand how far the next step might take us, is a mistake.”

But John Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration, is for tougher measures.

“I favor more sanctions,” he said, “because I do think it puts pressure on the regime, and I think anything that puts pressure on the regime and that could lead to its collapse and replacement is a good thing.”

Analysts say despite the threat of more sanctions, the negotiations beginning January 20 represent the best chance for an agreement. But they say these talks will be far more difficult than those that led to the interim accord.


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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid