News / Middle East

Window Remains for Iran to Curb Controversial Nuclear Program

Al Pessin

International pressure is mounting to convince Iran not to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has responded with denials, tough talk and an intensified effort to enrich uranium. But some analysts believe it is still possible for the West to persuade Iranian leaders to abandon their alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.

Iranian officials speak defiantly about their right to build a nuclear weapon, but also say they have no intention of doing so.

Experts say Iran is using machines, however, to enrich the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon - uranium - to near weapons-grade purity.

After European Union foreign ministers recently agreed to pressure Iran by banning purchases of its oil, the group’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton scoffed at Iranian claims of peaceful intentions.

“If you look at the low-enriched uranium that they have, you have to ask a very simple question, ‘What’s it for?’ And when I ask that question, as I do repeatedly, I don’t get an answer,” said Ashton.

Mark Fitzpatrick at London’s International Institute for Strategic Studies said Iran has put itself in a position to build a nuclear bomb, but not right away.

“If Iran wanted to produce a nuclear weapon, I still think it would take them over a year to do so,” said Fitzpatrick.

Iran’s nuclear facilities are reported to be at certain sites, shown in satellite photos released by an Iranian opposition group in the United States. But experts say, what is really worrisome is that Iran is now able to enrich uranium more quickly, and to a higher level, and is working harder to hide its nuclear facilities.

“Iran is moving some of its enrichment operations into a well-defended facility inside a mountain at Fordo, near the holy city of Qom. Once centrifuges are enriching uranium inside that mountain facility, they are largely out of reach of conventional attack,” said Fitzpatrick.

Western officials say they do not want to take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

They leave the possibility open, though, as U.S. President Barack Obama did during his State of the Union address.

“Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal," said Obama.

But the president quickly added that if Iran abandons its alleged nuclear weapons plan and allows international inspections to prove it, the country can “rejoin the community of nations.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency is sending a delegation to Iran to renew talks. At the U.S. mission to the IAEA in Vienna, Jennifer Hall-Godfrey told VOA via Skype the talks present a chance to avoid more sanctions or possible military action.

“The director-general [of the IAEA] has asked for constructive meetings and we would also like to see that this is a substantive conversation, not another conversation about when to talk, but actually beginning to address the questions and the issues that the IAEA has put forth,” said Hall-Godfrey.

Analysts say they believe Iranian leaders can still be persuaded not to build nuclear weapons. They also say it may be impossible to stop them, however - even with military strikes - if they decide to go forward.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
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 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 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 US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
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 Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
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.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs