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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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