Exclusive: UK to step up collaboration with US over nuclear warheads Documents released under FoI reveal ‘enhanced collaboration’ plans, raising questions over independence of UK deterrent Richard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, Friday 13 June 2014 Britain is stepping up its cooperation with the US over the design of nuclear warheads, raising new questions about the independence of the UK deterrent, according to documents disclosed after a freedom of information request.
A document prepared for a visit by a senior American nuclear official to the Aldermaston atomic weapons establishment (AWE) refers to “enhanced collaboration” on “nuclear explosive package design and certification”, on “maintenance of existing stockpiles”, and the “possible development of safer, more secure, warheads”.The partially censored document refers to a letter Tony Blair wrote to George Bush in 2006 asking for US help in maintaining Britain’s “nuclear delivery system” and the white paper of the same year, which gave the green light for replacing the existing fleet of Trident nuclear missile submarines.
One document describes the MDA as an agreement that enables Britain and the US “nuclear warhead communities to collaborate on all aspects of nuclear deterrence including nuclear warhead design and manufacture”.
A briefing paper drawn up for ministers and Ministry of Defence officials argues that physical “movements under the MDA do not involve nuclear weapons or devices” and therefore the agreement does not contravene the letter of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).
Most of the documents now released were drawn up at the time of the last renewal of the MDA in 2004. They make it clear Whitehall did not welcome a debate in parliament about the mutual defence pact……
Peter Burt of Nuclear Information Service, who obtained the papers, told the Guardian: “The UK and US are setting a dreadful example to the rest of the world by renewing the MDA, and are seriously undermining the credibility of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
He added: “If Iran and North Korea had signed a similar agreement for the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, the UK and US would be branding them pariah nations and screaming for the toughest of international sanctions to be imposed.”
Renewing the MDA showed the “worst kind of two-faced hypocrisy” and demonstrated that neither nation was serious about meeting its legal obligations under the NPT, Burt said.
The MoD said the agreement would be renewed by the end of the year http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/12/uk-us-mutual-defence-agreement-exclusive
Iran says ‘redesigning’ nuclear reactor to cut plutonium capacity Iran’s atomic energy chief offers to reduce Arak nuclear output to about one-tenth of previously planned level. Haaretz, By Reuters | Jun. 12, 2014 Iran is “busy redesigning” a planned research reactor to sharply cut its potential output of plutonium – a potential nuclear bomb fuel, a senior Iranian official said in comments that seemed to address a key dispute in negotiations with world powers.
The future of the Arak plant is among several issues that negotiators from Iran and six world powers need to resolve if they are to reach a deal by late July on curbing the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for an end to sanctions……..
The amount of plutonium the reactor will be able to yield will be reduced to less than 1 kg (2.2 pounds) from 9-10 kg (20-22 pounds) annually in its original design, he said. Western experts say 9-10 kg would be enough for 1-2 nuclear bombs and that Arak’s capacity should be scaled back.
“We are currently busy redesigning that reactor to arrange for that alteration,” Salehi was quoted by IRNA as saying.
After talks with senior U.S. officials earlier this week, Iran questioned whether the July 20 deadline for a permanent settlement with the powers was feasible. If not, Tehran said the negotiations could be extended for six months. http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.598410
Climate change gulf looms between Barack Obama and Tony Abbott, Guardian, 11 June 14 US president’s call for action in US TV interview stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the Australian prime minister Climate change may be the most significant long-term challenge facing the planet, Barack Obama has said in a newly aired TV interview, emphasising the growing differences with Tony Abbott who insists it is certainly not the most important issue facing the world.
As Obama and Abbott prepare for their first formal meeting in Washington on Thursday, the differences between their positions on global warming are clearer than ever, and according to diplomatic sources the president will not seek to downplay them.
Obama’s remarks in an interview broadcast on US television on Tuesday night come as his administration increases its diplomatic push to achieve a successful new international agreement on greenhouse reduction efforts next year and unveils the detail of tough new rules to force reductions in emissions from US power stations……….
Abbott has downplayed the link between climate change and extreme weather events. For example during severe bushfires last year he said: “Climate change is real, as I’ve often said, and we should take strong action against it … but these fires are certainly not a function of climate change – they’re just a function of life in Australia.” When the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, said the fires showed the world is “already paying the price of carbon”, Abbott said “the official in question is talking through her hat”……….
The Coalition’s Direct Action policy is designed to meet only the minimum target of a 5% reduction by 2020 – despite advice from the independent Climate Change Authority that preconditions for a higher target, which previously had bipartisan agreement, have been met. The Coalition has said it will participate in the Paris meeting but has not given any indication of what Australia’s post-2020 target will be, or how it will be determined.
Australia’s policy is entirely voluntary. Companies can choose to bid into a series of “reverse auctions” for government funding. The new US policy requires power generation to reduce emissions by 30%, with states determining the mechanism by which they achieve this. States such as California which have emissions trading schemes will use them to achieve the goal……..http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/11/climate-change-gulf-looms-between-barack-obama-and-tony-abbott
Russia agrees on India’s nuclear liability law http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/energy/power/russia-agrees-on-indias-nuclear-liability-law/articleshow/36359852.cms MOSCOW: Russia has in principle agreed on the Indian nuclear liability law, paving the way for signing a contract for unit 3 and 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in July, Russian officials said today. “The (liability) law enacted is certainly challenging. We are working with our colleagues (counterparts) in India and the issue has been resolved,” said Kirill Komarov, Deputy Director General on Development and International business, Rosatom State Corporation. “We have just signed the protocol. The approvals will take some time. We have are awaiting nod from the Indian side. The India’s over view authority (Atomic energy Regulatory Board) is yet to give its nod. “They are also checking seismic activity in the area. So by July we should be ready with a roadmap after which we can start implementing the General Framework Agreement signed between the two countries,” said told a press conference. Unit 1 of the KKNPP has attained 100 per cent capacity of 1000 MW while the second unit should start generating power from this year. Units 1 and 2 of Tamil Nadu-based Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) have been built with the help of Russian assistance at the cost of Rs 17,200 crore. Insuring nuclear power plants is a daunting task because of its high cost and there is no single governmental insurance entity in the country that can insure these installations .. .. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/36359852.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
Pride and pragmatism: The UAE’s nuclear strategy, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2 JUNE 2014 Lauren Carty When the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed an agreement for nuclear cooperation in 2009, the terms of the deal were quickly heralded as a gold standard for US nuclear negotiations and nonproliferation goals. Not only did the UAE agree to forgo uranium enrichment and nuclear waste reprocessing—an unprecedented concession in a bilateral agreement of this type—but the United States also retained the right to order the UAE to remove special fissionable material “if exceptional circumstances of concern from a nonproliferation standpoint so require.”
For its part, the United States agreed that it would not extend terms more favorable than these to any other non-nuclear-weapon state in the Middle East in a peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement. The Emirates, however, probably did not foresee the United States backing off its high standards in future agreements with countries outside the Middle East, such as the 2014 agreement with Vietnam that is awaiting Congress’ likely approval. In spite of the Emirates’ subtle animosity over the more flexible US-Vietnam agreement, they have taken it in stride, and have actually used it as an opportunity to lead and exert dominance over the Arab world, as well as to boast of their commitments to sustainability and clean energy technologies.
A double standard? Unlike any other US nuclear agreement to share certain nuclear technologies with its allies, the 2009 arrangement included the stipulation that the UAE must import low enriched uranium rather than building its own enrichment facilities. Some analysts were puzzled when, five years later, the United States entered into a nuclear cooperation deal with Vietnam that allowed the country to enrich uranium. If the gold standard had been established with the UAE in 2009, why did the United States not apply it to Vietnam? Outmaneuvering China is one answer to this question, along with the fact that Vietnam hardly has the infrastructure to undertake a viable enrichment program. These considerations gave the United States incentive to create nuclear foreign policy on a case-by-case basis.
Whatever the reasons for the discrepancy, the UAE is fully aware that it received the short end of the stick………
Nuclear power is just part of the UAE’s strategy for meeting future energy demands. Abu Dhabi—one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE—has become the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency, an organization of 163 countries including the United States and the European Union. Another emirate, Dubai, looks to gain recognition for its environmental sustainability efforts, aiming to be in the top 10 carbon-neutral cities in the world by the end of the decade……http://thebulletin.org/pride-and-pragmatism-uae%E2%80%99s-nuclear-strategy7219
The U.S. state presumably does not intend to provoke a hot war with Russia and China.. But directing intensive protowar against powerful nuclear-armed states is to risk the possibility of ‘sleep walking’ into the abyss through miscalculation, or through a gradual hightening of conflicts which finally go out of control.
Nuclear Brinksmanship: Obama’s ProtoWar Against Russia and China By Eric Sommer Global Research, May 31, 2014 Counterpunch Russia and China are both under attack by a multi-pronged U.S.-led ‘proto-war’ which could erupt into ‘hot war’ or even nuclear war. ‘Protowar’ or ‘proto-warfare’ is the term I have coined to describe the use of multiple methods intended to weaken, destabilize, and in the limit-case destroy a targeted government without the need to engage in direct military warfare.
Protowar methods include threats against the targeted country; economic sanctions; military encirclement around its borders. cyber-warfare, drone warfare, and use of proxy forces from within or from outside the country for political and/or military action against the local government.
U.S.-led protowars also invariably include propaganda campaigns against the targeted governments. The media campaigns are waged by the five giant media conglomerates which now control 90% of the U.S. media and which are directly linked to the U.S. foreign-policy establishment through various means including corporate memberships in the Committee for Foreign Relations.
You can recognize these media campaigns because they frequently employ the words ‘human rights’ or ‘democracy’ as the pretext for U.S. state protowars against other countries. Sometimes, of course, these words cannot possibly be applied at all, as in the massive support currently given to the murderous military dictatorship in Egypt or the midevilist kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In these cases the U.S. media and government substitute the words ‘U.S. National Interest’ for ‘human rights’ as the pretext for targeting another country.
Proto-warfare often precedes, or leads up to, hot wars, as when a decade of economic sanctions, media demonization, and media-supported lies about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ led up to the Iraq war. Thousands of young American men and women were sent over to kill and be killed, or to be injured or traumatized, to say nothing of the up to a million Iraqis who died as a result of the war. However, Iraq did not possess nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, so there was no danger of a nuclear conflagration. Matters are much different with respect to Russia and China, both nuclear powers.
The ProtoWar Against Russia and China
U.S.-led proto-warfare against Russia and China has a number of elements. To begin with, it conforms to two popular doctrines in U.S. foreign policy circles. The first doctrine states that the U.S. must never allow another super-power to emerge, and must remain the unchallenged dominant force on Earth. This doctrine is clearly set-out in the original version of the U.S. Defence Department policy document known as ‘the Wolfowitz doctrine:
“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”
The document containing this statement and similar notions was changed for public consumption after the original provoked an outcry when it was leaked to the press. The second doctrine underpinning proto-warfare against Russia and China is that U.S. dominance of the planet depends on control of the Eurasian land mass, on which Russia and China occupy key positions. This doctrine has been heavily promoted by former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. “For America,” he has written, ” the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… Eurasia is the globes largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the worlds’ three most advanced and economically productive regions… Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.
In pursuit of Eurasian dominance a whole gamut of protowar tools are now being used by the U.S. in its campaigns against Russia and China. Militarily, the U.S.-led Nato military alliance has progressively squeezed Russia’s’ strategic space by enlisting one former Russian aligned state in Eastern Europe after another. Now, with a U.S.-supported coup-imposed government in power in Kiev, there is open talk of Nato also incorporating Ukraine, a country right on Russia’s’ border……………
On the other side of Eurasia, U.S. military encirclement of China has also recently proceeded apace. Military bases and transfers of billions of dollars in military equipment have been positioned around China for years in areas such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
Now, with the Obama administrations’ so-called ‘pivot to Asia’, a new more ambitious program called ‘Air-Sea battle plan’ involves deployment of large amounts of very hi-tech military systems and equipment in the pacific area all aimed at China.
At the same time, new U.S. military bases are being opened across the Pacific arena, from the Philippines to Australia, with no other conceivable target but China.
In conjunction with this Pacific military build-up, the U.S.state is attempting to use previously minor disputes over ownership of maritime resources to turn a number of smaller Asian nations into proxies to help it destabilize China. These nations include Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines. By offering its support, and in some cases promises of military assistance in any maritime conflict with China, the U.S. has stoked the ambitions and aggressive nationalist tendencies of these smaller nations vis-a-vis China.
Coinciding with the military build-up against China is extensive cyber-penetration of China by the U.S. NSA (National Security Agency), as revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
This penetration includes wholesale capture of hundreds of thousands or millions of Chinese mobile text messages; the monitoring of mobile phone conversations of Chinese leaders; and serious intrusions into the computer network backbone system of Beijings’ Tsinghua university, which is linked to large numbers of Chinese research centers including labs engaged in sensitive military-related work………
The danger of the U.S.Eurasian protowar erupting into hot war – or even nuclear war – stems from a single factor: Previous U.S.-led protowars which erupted into hot wars were against countries like Serbia, Iraq, or Libya. Those countries did not have nuclear weapons and could not effectively defend themselves against U.S. military and other pressures Russia and China are in a different category – they are nuclear- armed and can defend themselves.
The U.S. state presumably does not intend to provoke a hot war with Russia and China.. But directing intensive protowar against powerful nuclear-armed states is to risk the possibility of ‘sleep walking’ into the abyss through miscalculation, or through a gradual hightening of conflicts which finally go out of control. . In 1914, with the European powers of the day already on edge, it took just the assassination of a minor duke in a peripheral country to trigger World War I. As an old adage has it, “If you play with fire, you may get burned.” http://www.globalresearch.ca/nuclear-brinksmanship-obamas-protowar-against-russia-and-china/5384644
Niger, Areva in hard-won uranium deal, Yahoo 7 Finance, 26 May 14–The government of Niger and French nuclear energy group Areva announced on Monday that they had signed a deal to renew a decades-old agreement for the operation of two uranium mines.
Under the deal, negotiated for 18 months, Areva agreed that a 2006 mining law sharply increasing taxes on mineral extracted would apply to the Somair and Cominak operations in the north of the country which it partially controls.
“We have heard the government’s legitimate call for higher receipts coming from uranium,” said Luc Oursel, Areva CEO, on a visit to Niamey to sign the deal.
However, a joint statement said that the operations would be exempt from sales tax over the course of the five-year deal.
The revenue issue had been the main sticking point in the talks since the government considered that the previous contracts, which expired at the end of last year, were unfavourable to the country, the fourth-biggest producer of uranium in the world.
The French arm of charity Oxfam, which has been a sharp critic of state-controlled Areva’s uranium dealings with Niger, said the new deal continued to shortchange Nigeriens, who stood to lose “10 to 15 million euros a year.” ($13.6 to $20.5 million)……. https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/niger-areva-hard-won-uranium-085912953.html
China agrees North Korea’s nuclear activities a serious threat, says South Mon May 26, 2014 SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea and China agreed on Monday that recent nuclear activity by North Korea posed a serious threat to the peace and stability of the region and Pyongyang must not conduct a nuclear test, Seoul said after a meeting of their top diplomats.
Renewed activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site has indicated Pyongyang may be preparing a fourth nuclear test in contravention of U.N. sanctions.
Analysis have suggested the North may be close to miniaturising a nuclear warhead to mount on a missile, alarming regional powers that have for two decades tried to rein in Pyongyang’s atomic programme.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his South Korea counterpart Yun Byung-se to discuss the North’s nuclear programme, as well as an upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul this year, South Korea’s foreign ministry said.
“The two ministers agreed to step up cooperation based on the united position that they object to the North’s nuclear test and that recent nuclear activities by the North pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region,” the ministry said.
China, North Korea’s lone major ally, is usually very guarded in its opinion on Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, usually expressing its desire for a nuclear-free “Korean peninsula” and careful not to be seen to be taking sides…….http://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN0E61LJ20140526
IAEA Confirms: Iran Sharply Reducing Uranium Stockpile http://news.antiwar.com/2014/05/23/iaea-confirms-iran-sharply-reducing-uranium-stockpile/ 20 Percent Enriched Uranium Almost Used Up by Jason Ditz, May 23, 2014 Many of the contents of the IAEA report on Iran were already leaked the day before it came out, and the good news of Iran abiding by the P5+1 interim nuclear deal was as expected. There’s more to the report, however. One of the biggest pieces of data in the report shows Iran’s stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, the highest level they made, has sharply fallen as the nation continues to convert it into fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor.
Though 20 percent is far short of the level needed for nuclear weapons, it was repeatedly pushed by the US as a “threat,” and Iran stopped enriching at that level at the start of the nuclear deal. Only about 40 kg are left to be converted to fuel rods, a trivial amount. The Tehran Research Reactor, built by the US in 1967, provides materially all of the medical isotopes in Iran. The aging facility will eventually be replaced with a modern one using unenriched uranium, but in the meantime Iran has created what seems to be all of the fuel rods it can use for the conceivable lifespan of the facility.
Iran is now only enriching to 3.5 percent, the level used in the Bushehr Power Plant. Iran is in talks with Russia to build more power plants in the nation, with a deal for as many as 8 reported to be close.
Narendra Modi will have to ‘press the nuclear button’ if Pakistan does not ‘mend its ways’, says Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray DNA, 25 May 2014 – : Mumbai | Agency: PTI “……..In a statement issued in Mumbai, Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said, “So far only India has taken initiative of forgetting the past and starting afresh. Hence, it is difficult to trust Pakistan. But we trust Modi’s leadership and hence we do not want to create hurdles for him. If Pakistan does not mend its ways, Modi will have to press the nuclear button.” ………http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-narendra-modi-will-have-to-press-the-nuclear-button-if-pakistan-does-not-mend-its-ways-says-shiv-sena-chief-uddhav-thackeray-1991286
Chinese officials indicted in nuclear cyberspying case, By Eric Tucker, The Times of Israel, 19 May 14 US announces unprecedented charges against military hackers who targeted big-name firms, stole trade secrets WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States announced on Monday unprecedented cyber espionage charges against five Chinese military officials accused of hacking into US companies to gain trade secrets The hackers targeted big-name makers of nuclear and solar technology, stealing confidential business information, sensitive trade secrets and internal communications for competitive advantage, according to a grand jury indictment……..
The indictment says that five hackers — members of the People’s Liberation Army — worked from a building in Shanghai to steal proprietary information from the companies and the labor union, including communications that could have helped Chinese firms learn strategies and weaknesses of American companies involved in litigation with the Chinese government or Chinese firms.
The defendants are all believed to be in China and it was unclear whether they would ever be turned over to the US for prosecution. But the Justice Department, publicizing the charges, identified all five by name and issued “wanted” posters………
The indictment will put a greater strain on the US-China relationship and could provoke retaliatory acts in China or elsewhere.
“What we can expect to happen is for the Chinese government to indict individuals in the United States who they will accuse of hacking into computers there,” said Mark Rasch, a former US cybercrimes prosecutor. “Everybody now is going to jump into the act, using their own criminal laws to go after what other countries are doing.”
Rasch said the indictments attempt to distinguish spying for national security purposes — which the US admits doing — from economic espionage intended to gain commercial advantage for private companies or industries, which the US denies it does. Classified documents disclosed by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden described aggressive US efforts to eavesdrop on foreign communications that would be illegal in those countries.
“These five people were just doing their jobs. It’s just that we object to what their jobs are,” Rasch said. “We have tens of thousands of dedicated, hard-working Americans who are just doing their jobs, too.”
Unlike in some countries, there are no nationalized US industries. American officials have flatly denied that the government spies on foreign companies and then hands over commercially valuable information to American companies. http://www.timesofisrael.com/chinese-officials-indicted-in-nuclear-cyberspying-case/#ixzz32JH7SA85
Poverty-stricken African nations exploited by mining companies, especially Australian uranium miners
THE SCRAMBLE FOR URANIUM IN AFRICA http://www.phantomreport.com/the-scramble-for-uranium-in-africa 19 May 14, Africa’s resources are extracted by outsiders, with benefits only reaching the involved non-African mining companies and non-African end-users of the commodity. Africa is the next frontier to meet energy needs. Oil and gas are being exploited as never before, exacerbating conflict in Darfur and Nigeria, social inequality in Angola, and environmental damage in Chad.
At the same time, renewed demand for uranium is being explored on the continent more than at any other time in history.
Yet the continent’s huge potential for renewable energy is not fully being realised. The government of Malawi granted a uranium mining licence to an Australian uranium mining company without having any legislation on the mining, handling and transportation of radioactive materials. Malawi is now home to twelve potential uranium mines.
In Niger mining companies from Australia, Canada, France and other parts of the world are scrambling for licences to explore uranium in a country which is already the world’s sixth producer of uranium. In the Central African Republic (CAR) there is a scramble amongst Chinese, American and French companies which are all interested in mining the Bakouma region.
In Tanzania the Australian Omega Corp obtained the Mkuju River concessions through its subsidiary, Mantra Resources. Other Australian juniors are represented in Tanzania, including Sabre Resources, Goldstream Mining, Uranex and Deep Yellow.
In Zambia, the Australian Energy Ventures through its subsidiary Africa Energy Resources started drilling the Kariba Valley in May 2008. Another Australian enterprise, Albion Ltd,, is also undertaking exploration.
China warns North Korea against fourth nuclear test, Australia Network News, 20 May 14 China has used diplomatic channels to warn North Korea against conducting a fourth nuclear test after the reclusive state renewed its threat of “counter-measures” against perceived US hostility.
North Korea, which regularly threatens the South and the United States with destruction, is already under heavy sanctions imposed by several UN resolutions beginning in 2006 but has defied pressure to abandon its missile and nuclear programs.
It last conducted a nuclear test in February 2013.
“China has told North Korea that there is no justification for a new nuclear test and that they should not do it,” a Western diplomat who was briefed by Chinese officials said.
The sources said China had used diplomatic channels in Beijing and Pyongyang to convey its anxiety about the possibility of a fourth test to the North……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-20/an-china-warns-nkorea/5463466
The phantom at the Iran nuclear talks: weaponisation, Guardian, Julian Borger 15 May 14, How far should Iran go to resolve concerns over past weapons research to reach a comprehensive deal? ………. there is another issue waiting in the wings – the past. The general western intelligence consensus is that Iran had an organised weaponisation programme exploring how to build a warhead up to 2003, and that if research continued it was in a more dispersed manner………
even if Iran started working on weapons in the wake of the Iran-Iraq war (in which it saw the West as backing Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against Iran) but was now prepared to give up any such aspirations, it might still refuse to contemplate a confession. It would be a huge embarrassment in view of the Supreme Leader’s fatwa against nuclear weapons. Tehran could also see pressure for such a confession as a trick designed to justify a military attack. The question then for the West is whether to allow those fears stand in the way of deal that would constraint Iran’s future programme.
The mood music being put out by diplomats in Vienna suggests that the issue will not be a deal breaker for now. One solution, set out in a detailled report produced by the International Crisis Group, is for the problem to be kicked down the road. A comprehensive deal clinched in the next few months would commit Iran to resolving the issue satisfactorily with the IAEA. It would not let Iran off the hook but neither would it jeopardise non-proliferation gains that could be achievable now. http://www.theguardian.com/world/julian-borger-global-security-blog/2014/may/15/iran-nuclear-talks-weapons
Optimism Grows for a Comprehensive Iran Nuclear Deal Several Core Elements of Agreement Have Emerged WSJ, By JAY SOLOMON And
LAURENCE NORMAN May 12, 2014 WASHINGTON—Several core elements of agreement between Iran and the West have emerged in recent weeks, heightening optimism that a comprehensive deal can be reached by the July 20 deadline, according to U.S., Iranian and European officials involved in the diplomacy.
Still significant differences remain that could scuttle a deal or force negotiators to extend talks, officials briefed on the talks said.
“People are less pessimistic than they have been in the past—certainly,” one European official said. “There are certain areas where some kind of consensus” is emerging. “But in certain areas, there is still a huge gulf.” One of the key areas of agreement is the future of an Iranian plan to convert its heavy-water reactor in the city of Arak to produce significantly less weapons-grade plutonium, according to various officials.
Iran also has begun to more substantively address evidence presented in parallel talks with the U.N’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, that it conducted research and testing to develop atomic bombs, the officials said.
However, the U.S. and Europe are demanding significant progress in accounting for past work as part of the agreement. Iran, which has denied it ever sought nuclear weapons, is being pressed to agree in coming days to provide answers on several other aspects of its past work.
Negotiators will begin drafting terms of a final agreement on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program this week in Vienna. A deal would end a decadelong standoff between Tehran and the West and put into place greater assurances that Iran won’t be able to build a bomb, in return for a major easing of Western sanctions……..
The meetings in Vienna will mark the fourth round of high-level talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany—known as the P5+1—since the two sides reached an interim agreement last November.The interim deal resulted in Tehran freezing parts of its nuclear program in return for an easing of some Western sanctions. It will expire on July 20 but could be extended by six months if both sides agree they need more time.
The main area of disagreement continues to be the scope of Iran’s uranium-enrichment facilities, which could be used to produce weapons-grade fuel for a bomb, according to U.S. and European officials. Tehran currently has 19,000 centrifuges used to enrich uranium and has plans to build 30,000 more.
The Obama administration, conversely, is demanding Tehran scale back its capacity to as little as 5,000 operating machines to ensure Iran can’t quickly “break out” and rush to build a nuclear bomb in less than six months.
Iran and the P5+1 are seeking to develop a formula that limits both the number and quality of centrifuges as well as stockpiles of fissile materials to guard against the capability to quickly build a bomb.
But Iran’s theocratic leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has repeatedly stated in recent weeks that he won’t accept a significant scaling back of his country’s nuclear capabilities.
U.S. and European officials said they were unsure whether Mr. Khamenei’s position on the centrifuges is a tactical move ahead of the drafting sessions this week in Vienna, or if he has set a red line for his negotiators……..http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303851804579558162293087156
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