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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees 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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

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