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

    Brexit Vote Triggers Increase in Racist Attacks

    Britain's decision to leave European Union seen by some as 'permission' to unleash anti-immigrant resentment

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    AIIB Takes Big Strides Amid Fears About China's Dominance

    Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank says it is independent, but concerns persist; China holds 20.6 percent of bank's shares, others have less than 7.5 percent each

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmarki
    X
    John Owens
    June 26, 2016 2:04 PM
    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora