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

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

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.
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