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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs