Inside Story

Iran nuclear talks: Deal or no deal?

As talks over Tehran's nuclear programme continue in Geneva, we ask who might gain or lose from a possible breakthrough.

Last updated: 23 Nov 2013 09:11
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Negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers are continuing. Delegates are locked in difficult talks in Geneva as they struggle to secure an interim deal on Tehran's nuclear programme.

France wanted to say ... 'don't worry if the US is somehow ... friendly towards Iran, we will fill the vacuum' - immediately after that a huge arms contract was signed between Paris and Riyadh and Paris and UAE.

Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor at Tehran University

So far, there has been no breakthrough in trying to persuade Iran to temporarily freeze nuclear enrichment in return for the lifting of some sanctions.

Iran refuses to give up nuclear enrichment, insisting it is for peaceful purposes.

Israel strongly opposes the proposed deal and says it will not be obliged to honour it. 

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejects any agreement which would allow Iran to keep its nuclear programme. He accuses the world powers of offering the Islamic Republic the deal of the century.

Saudi Arabia has also expressed skepticism about a deal with Iran, a Shia country, being allowed to enrich its nuclear programme and increase its influence, which Saudi Arabia regards a threat to the kingdom and to the region.

The Obama administration is currently very weak on the diplomatic stage … Whether the world as a whole and the Middle East in particular would be a safer place ... with or without an Iranian nuclear bomb, from Paris the answer is very clear. It is ‘No’, the world would not be safer with an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Franck Guillory, the editor-in-chief of Jolpress.com

Western powers and Iran have concerns over the finer points of the proposed deal. The P5+1 wants Iran to halt uranium enrichment to medium level of purity, or 20 percent.

The group also wants Iran to reduce the concentration of its existing stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium, or convert it to oxide form.

The world powers are also concerned over the heavy-water reactor Iran is building at Arak and want to stop it from going into operation.

Iran is also being asked to commit to permitting more inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In return, Iran wants the P5+1 to recognise its right to enrich uranium and is calling for an end to international and unilateral sanctions.

Israel and Saudi Arabia are widely seen to have been stalling progress in Geneva. But France has also said that it would oppose an easing of economic sanctions against Iran until it is convinced that Tehran had ended a pursuit of nuclear weapons.

France has called for greater restrictions on a heavy-water reactor at Arak which, when finished, would produce plutonium as a byproduct.

As negotiations continue in Geneva to temporarily freeze Tehran's nuclear programme, who might gain or lose from a possible breakthrough? What will a deal mean for the Middle East? Why is Saudia Arabia so opposed to a deal with Iran? And why would France upset the best chance in decades to heal the rift between the US and much of the western world and Iran?

Inside Story, with presenter Adrian Finnigan, discusses with guests: Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University; Hussein Shobokshi, a Saudi Arabian political analyst; and Franck Guillory, the editor-in-chief of Jolpress.com.

"Iran is a very important member of the 'axis of evil'.... Iran has not changed, it has clearly made its foreign policy, a very disturbing one to its neighbours and we have paid the price - Saudis and the Arabs .... Iran has become an advocate of terror and advocate of disturbance. It has supported various outlawed organisations in Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Bahrain, in Kuwait, the Occupied Land, in UAE, and it has threatened Kuwait and Saudi Arabia many times. It's not about the nuclear programme alone, it's about the policies of Iran and the leadership ambitions of Iran."

Hussein Shobokshi, a Saudi Arabian political analyst


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