News / Middle East

Iran Asks Quick Follow-up on New Sanctions Offer

From left: Ma Zaoxu, Chinese assistant minister of foreign affairs, Hans-Dieter Lucas, political director of Germany's Foreign Ministry, and Sergey Ryabkov, Russia deputy foreign minister, Almaty, Kazakhstan, Feb. 27, 2013.
From left: Ma Zaoxu, Chinese assistant minister of foreign affairs, Hans-Dieter Lucas, political director of Germany's Foreign Ministry, and Sergey Ryabkov, Russia deputy foreign minister, Almaty, Kazakhstan, Feb. 27, 2013.
Iran and world powers have agreed to more talks about the Iranian nuclear program, after negotiators for those nations offered new concessions and Iran responded by asking for a quick follow-up meeting.

The significant developments came Wednesday, at the end of a two-day meeting of Iranian and world power representatives in Kazakhstan, where they engaged in their first high-level talks since last June.

Speaking in Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, Iran's top negotiator Saeed Jalili welcomed the new proposals by the six nations as "more realistic" than previous ones and called them a "turning point" in negotiations with the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

The talks have been aimed at addressing Western concerns that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons under the cover of a peaceful energy program - a charge Tehran denies.

Greater concessions

Diplomats in Almaty said the world powers proposed lifting sanctions on Iranian gold and other precious metals in return for Iran suspending the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity at its Fordo underground facility.

Iran's Nuclear Program

2012

January: IAEA confirms Iran is refining uranium to 20% fissile purity
February: UN inspectors end talks in Tehran without inspecting disputed military site at Parchin
April: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vows Iran will not surrender its nuclear rights
May: UN inspectors report finding traces of significantly upgraded uranium at an Iranian site
July: EU begins total ban on Iranian oil imports; US expands sanctions
September: IAEA demands access to Parchin; Iran calls EU sanctions "irresponsible"
December: IAEA says it made progress in talks with Iran; US imposes more sanctions.

2013
January: Iran says it will speed up nuclear fuel work
February: Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rejects direct nuclear talks with the U.S.; Iran, world powers meet, agree to more talks.
May: IAEA says Iran has expanded nuclear activity.
September: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will not seek weapons of mass destruction.  Iran and world powers agree to resume nuclear talks.
October: Iran set to begin talks with five permanent members of U.N. Security Council and Germany
Previously, the six nations had limited their offers to ending restrictions on spare parts for Iranian civilian airliners. They also had insisted on a full shutdown of the Fordo complex.

Now, it appears that world powers are ready to accept some lower-grade enrichment at Fordo, provided that higher-grade enrichment to 20-percent purity is stopped and cannot be quickly restarted.

A senior U.S. official in Almaty said there is no deadline on the world powers' offer, but also warned time is running short for Iran to accept it.

Faster pace

As they wrapped up the Almaty talks, the two sides agreed to hold an expert-level meeting on March 18 in Istanbul, Turkey, followed by another meeting of top negotiators starting April 5.

VOA correspondent Bijan Farhoodi in Almaty said sources told him that the request for a speedy resumption of negotiations came from Iran.

"Something started rolling in Almaty that was not happening before. In the past, the space between the talks was much longer," Farhoodi said.

"The [two sides] never agreed to meet on a date so close to that of the previous conference. Now [the Iranians] are asking for less than a month [until] the next conference, so this is a way of signaling that Iran wants to get these sanctions lifted and accommodate the [six powers]."

Under pressure

The U.N. Security Council has imposed several rounds of sanctions on Iran to try to pressure it into curbing enrichment activities that could be used to make a nuclear bomb. Several nations, including the United States, also have imposed unilateral penalties on Iranian entities.

Iran's economy has weakened under the sanctions, with key oil revenues falling, unemployment rising and inflation soaring. Diplomats at the Almaty talks said the world powers did not propose lifting penalties against the Iranian oil and financial sectors.

Farhoodi said Iranian negotiators repeated their previous offer to cooperate with the major powers in nuclear and non-nuclear matters in return for an end to sanctions. He said Iran hopes to somehow merge its proposal with that of the six nations in the next round of talks.

Western hopes

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represented the six nations, said she hopes the Iranian side will look at their new proposal "positively."

"The offer addresses international concerns [about] the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, but is also responsive to Iranian ideas," she said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Almaty talks were "useful." Speaking on a visit to Paris, he said if Iran engages in serious negotiations, it could lead to a long-term resolution of the nuclear dispute.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the U.S.-based Arms Control Association, said he was surprised by Iran's eagerness to keep talking.

"The Iranians have their own political process they have to navigate," Kimball said. "They have June [presidential] elections. So, it was surprising to some of us that they did agree to another round of talks because there are strong political reasons why they simply wouldn't want to reach a deal in the near term."

Iran has long resisted international pressure to curb uranium enrichment. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said Tehran recently began installing a new generation of centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment plant, a move U.S. officials have deemed "provocative."

Military threat

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday the international community should intensify existing Iranian sanctions and warn Tehran that continued enrichment will lead to "military sanctions." He did not elaborate.

Israel has long warned that it could strike Iranian nuclear sites to prevent the development of a bomb that it says would threaten its existence due to Iranian leaders' calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. Iran sees Israel's widely-assumed nuclear arsenal as a major threat to peace in the region.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tom Marine from: Long Island, New York
February 27, 2013 9:02 PM
The US are chumps! This "talk" junk has been going on for a lot of years and the Iranians are laughing at us. The talk will stop the day they announce they have both a MIRV-compatible megaton warheads ready and the delivery vehicles aimed and loaded.

But until then, the folks in suits at photo ops at important meetings get kudos and Peace Prizes. After the big flash and the big booms, the suits will live well on pensions and write books on how disingenuous those rascally Iranians were.


by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 27, 2013 10:53 AM
What concrete action was achieved? ZERO ! Kind of the results with the NKorean talks, also have achieved ZERO !


by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
February 26, 2013 6:27 AM
i wonder if russia would just keep quiet in this era of the START if it saw a new american ally pop up during the dialogue and threatened to make nuclear weapons like north korea and iran always do like mice?
lulasa...the president

In Response

by: BAKHTIAR
February 27, 2013 5:35 AM
SUCH ARRANGEMENTS DO NOT DEPEND ON THE BEHAVIOR OR ATTITUDE OF SINGLE STATES ESPECIALLY IN THE GULF STATES IT THINGS IT GOES FURTHER THANT THIS . THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM WHICH IS DOMINATED BY POWERFUL STATES THEY DECIDED BEHIND THE SCENE HOW TO DEAL WITH WHAT IS CALL ROUGE STATES

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid