11 April, 2015
Negotiators are trying to reach an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear activities. The deal would include an easing of international sanctions against Iran. The restrictions were designed to punish Iran for its nuclear activities.
Some observers believe a final agreement would help Iran expand its influence in the Middle East.
Representatives from Iran, the United States and five other countries recently agreed on a plan for future negotiations on Iran's nuclear program. Negotiators now hope to reach a final agreement by the end of June.
As the talks move forward, some governments have raised other concerns about Iran, including its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. They are also concerned about Iran's assistance in Iraq in the fight against Islamic State militants and its ties to Hezbollah, the Shi'ite militant group based in Lebanon.
One of the most outspoken critics of a stronger Iran is Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the deal reached in Switzerland this month.
"The deal would greatly bolster Iran's economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East."
But United States officials say a nuclear deal may actually help reduce threats from Iran. Marie Harf is with the State Department.
"One of the reasons we are so committed to seeing if we can prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon is, if you can imagine how much power they're able to project today, they would be able to project ever more power if that was backed up by a nuclear weapon."
Kelsey Davenport studies efforts to stop the spread of weapons. She says an Iran nuclear deal might lead to more unrest in the Middle East.
"Any agreement that left Iran with a nuclear infrastructure was going to be a bad deal."
Emanuele Ottolenghi is a Middle East expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He says people should be worried that the easing of sanctions might empower Iran. He spoke to VOA on SKYPE.
"It will be a great boost to Iran's wealth, which the regime has used as a tool to influence regional foreign policy, to fund terrorist movements, to advance its goals, to enhance Iran's role as a leader in the non-aligned movement. The sky is the limit..."
Emanuele Ottolenghi says several countries would likely feel most threatened by an empowered Iran. One of them is Israel. Another would be Saudi Arabia, which he says competes with Iran.
"There is a, an irreconcilable rivalry between the two countries and the ruling elites as both aspire to be the beacon and, and guide, and sort of global power in the Islamic world. These two things cannot be reconciled."
He says the changes should help countries that enjoyed trade relations with Iran before the sanctions were put in place.
I'm Christopher Jones-Cruise.
VOA State Department Correspondent Pam Dockins reported this story. George Grow wrote it for VOA Learning English. Christopher Jones-Cruise was the editor.
Words in This Story
sanction(s) – n. an action taken to force a country to obey international rules or laws; a measure designed to limit or stop trade with that country
outspoken – adj. speaking in an honest, open way about one's opinions
regime – n. a government or administration
empower(ed) – v. to give power to someone (or something)
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