News / Middle East

West Prepares to Ease Iran Sanctions

Henry Ridgwell
A temporary deal agreed to in November between world powers and Iran regarding its nuclear program comes into force Monday. It’s seen as a stepping-stone to a broader agreement on the future of the program, which many Western countries believe is aimed at producing nuclear weapons - a charge Iran has long denied.

The interim deal between Iran and the six world powers known as the P5+1 (the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) will see Tehran freeze high-level uranium enrichment for six months. In return, the West will end some of the sanctions against Iran worth an estimated $7 billion.

Mark Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said Iran wants to make the deal work, and therefore will allow inspectors in.

“The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has people in Iran almost every day, will be able to go to the declared facilities, count centrifuges, and know exactly whether or not Iran is meeting its obligations under the deal,” said Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick pointed out that the deal is not eliminating or even rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, but rather is capping it at its current status.

“It could go down the path of a nuclear weapon with what it has today and it might get there after three months, or four months, or six months; during which time action [against Iran] would be taken. What this deal does is at least freeze that period of time so that the time doesn’t get shorter,” explained Fitzpatrick.


Opponents of the deal - including Israel - have urged Western governments not to ease any sanctions until Iran begins to dismantle its nuclear program.

British upper house lawmaker Norman Lamont, who has just returned from Tehran on a visit looking at restoring London’s diplomatic relations with Iran, thinks the West retains a strong hand.

“I don’t believe the West has given anything away that can’t be reversed. And I think we’ve added to the so-called break-out time that it would require to have in order to construct a nuclear weapon,” said Lamont.

Relations between Iran and the West have thawed since Hassan Rouhani won the presidency last year, but many analysts caution that the reins of power really lie with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is the one who will ultimately decide the future course of any comprehensive agreement.

Others, such as Lamont, disagree with that analysis.

“One has to ask oneself, ‘Is the power really in the hands of government?’ And there are several centers of power within the Iranian regime. But my view is that they have decided they would wish to do a nuclear deal and I think they just about have the power to deliver it,” said Lamont.

The breathing space created by the deal is crucial, according to Mark Fitzpatrick.

“The aim of these next six months is to work toward a comprehensive deal that would provide the world with greater confidence that Iran would not be able to rush for a nuclear weapon,” said Fitzpatrick.

Some U.S. lawmakers want to impose further sanctions on Iran over the nuclear program, but analysts say any such measures would likely sink the interim deal and trigger retaliation by Tehran.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs