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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.