News / Middle East

Will Iran's Election Bring Nuclear Talks Thaw?

Presidential candidates from left: Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, parliament lawmaker, and Hasan Rowhani, former top nuclear negotiator, attend TV debate, Tehran, June 7, 2013.
Presidential candidates from left: Saeed Jalili, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, parliament lawmaker, and Hasan Rowhani, former top nuclear negotiator, attend TV debate, Tehran, June 7, 2013.
The United States and the European Union believe Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says its program is for peaceful, civilian purposes.
 
As Iranians head to the polls this week to choose a new president, talks with the West and the United Nations over the nuclear issue have been stalled. Analysts remain skeptical whether a new man in office will make any difference.
 
Jim Walsh, an expert on Iran’s nuclear program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), says the Iranian leadership is apparently divided on the nuclear issue.
 
“The Director for National Intelligence [James Clapper], the highest ranking intelligence officer in the U.S. government, has testified this year that Iran has not yet made a decision to build a bomb,” Walsh said. “Now, they want a capability — they have a basic capability because they know how to make centrifuges — but they haven’t made that critical political decision to go ahead and cross that bridge and decide to build a bomb.”
 
No progress in talks
 
For years the international community has been trying to persuade Iran to end its uranium enrichment program — but to no avail. Low-enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear power plants, but highly enriched uranium is an integral part of a nuclear bomb.
 
Two rounds of international negotiations this year failed to yield any progress.
 
In an effort to pressure Iran to end its uranium enrichment program, the United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran. In addition, several individual nations, including the United States, have imposed their own measures — for example, targeting Tehran’s oil industry and financial sector.
 
Former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, whose foreign posts included Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, calls sanctions a double-edged sword.
 
“I have seen it with sanctions elsewhere, including Iraq — manipulative, autocratic regimes, whether in Iraq or Iran, can manipulate sanctions in a way that the regime doesn’t suffer but the people do,” Crocker said. “That clearly is not our intent.”
 
While Walsh says sanctions do have their place, he questions whether they have achieved their goal.
 
“At the end of the day, whether they are good or bad doesn’t really matter," he said. "The question is, are we achieving our policy objective? Is the Iranian nuclear program capped? Is it being reduced in size?
 
"And sadly, the answer to those questions is ‘no,’'' Walsh said. “And we can continue to do the same thing over and over and over again and have it fail over and over and over again, or we can try to rethink what we are doing and try to actually achieve our objective.”
 
Post-election thaw?
 
Some analysts, including both Crocker and Walsh, believe the way to move forward is to engage Iran in negotiations.
 
Ambassador Crocker, who has negotiated with the Iranians, says even failed talks can have positive results.
 
“Negotiations aren’t only about getting to ‘yes,’ particularly with a complex, sophisticated and to us often opaque country like Iran,” he said. “If you can get to ‘yes,’ that’s good, but if you get to ‘no’ — and the reason you get to ‘no’ is because of their intransigence — then you emerge in a stronger position for whatever comes next.”
 
As Iranians prepare to elect a new president on Friday, Walsh says the post-election period may provide a good chance for progress on the nuclear front.
 
“If the election goes smoothly,” he said, “there will be a window of opportunity following their presidential election and before the end of President Obama’s term, where if the parties want to get something done, that’s the time to do it.”
 
Both Walsh and Crocker, however, say Washington and Tehran must break the cycle of mistrust between them in order to seriously address issues such as Iran’s suspected intention to develop nuclear weapons.

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 VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 12, 2013 10:02 AM
This election has nothing to do with it. Iran under Khamenei has decided to go ahead with nuclear capability. The elected officers have no say in how Iran is ruled - they only carry out orders given by the spiritual leader. Elections in Iran mean just nothing; if Ahmadinejad was unable to say his mind let alone challenge the sha's opinion, how much is any new "elected" officer expected to achieve under the same selector and maker of Iran's policies? Giving Iran the long period to make and present an election, is the nuclear program also waiting all the while for a new leader to emerge, or has the program continued till Iran gets beyond the limits only for the international community afraid of nuclear death to start on their knees to negotiate? Seems the situation is already hopeless, after all it's already in the hands of North Korea and Pakistan who are good allies with extremism and fanaticism.

So if there has been a lull in negotiation and not in the nuclear program of Iran, then it is better to forget it, for by now the regime must have had time enough to arrive at their destination -whatever it is. And there is no guarantee that the program or its prototype is not already in the hands of Hezbollah. The issue here is that the whole world and not only USA and Israel have been short-changed by whoever is policing the Iran program. The whole process appears to have little sincerity and the world is about to wake up to the greeting of yet another nuclear power from the northern hemisphere - a terrorist for that matter after North Korea - aiming the nuzzles of its ballistic missile with nuclear warheads at whoever dares to speak up against them. And someone will be glad that it will first be fired at Israel. USA as is now is more talk and less action. Lack of direction?

by: Change Iran Now from: US
June 12, 2013 12:20 AM
It's highly doubtful there will be any real meaningful changes in Iran's nuclear policy because of Khamenei's hardline insistence. While Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei has hand-picked his guys and is engineering a record voter turnout, helped along by the cheerful menace of the Revolutionary Guard to the polls, this election leaves little doubt as to what the outcome will be since whoever wins will be effectively managed by Khamenei as fully as a puppet master. Consequently, while we in the West might be buoyed by a so-called reform candidate, the bitter truth is that this election will lead to no reforms. Along with this pre-determined outcome will be the constant struggles we will have with Iran's continued support of state sponsored terrorism, naked efforts to build nuclear weapons and a policy of using economic sanctions as an excuse to punish and oppress the Iranian people.

At the end of the day, we can only hope that the Iranian people will boycott these elections and deny Khamenei the sense of legitimacy he craves and continue international diplomatic pressure in conjunction with support for dissident groups such as the NCRI and PMOI who are really doing the heavy lifting of fighting for regime change.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs