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Iran still committed to the nuclear accord, but will decrease its commitment if other signatories cannot help

Iran Threatens to Revert to Pre-2015 Nuclear Development Levels, By VOA News, July 15, 2019 Iran threatened Monday to revert its nuclear development program to pre-2015 levels before it agreed to restraints under an international accord if the European countries and the United States that were signatories to the deal fail to help its economy.

“If the Europeans and the Americans don’t want to carry out their duties… we will decrease our commitments and… reverse the conditions to four years ago,” the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted atomic agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying.

“These actions are not out of obstinacy,” Kamalvandi said. “It is to give diplomacy a chance so that the other side [can] come to their senses and carry out their duties.”

The international pact called for sanctions relief for Tehran as it agreed to curbs on its nuclear program. But U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018 and reimposed tough punitive measures against the Islamic republic that have hobbled its economy and cut its international oil exports. Tehran has contended that Europe has not done enough to help it overcome the effects of the U.S. sanctions.

In the last month, Iran has exceeded the size of the uranium stockpile and the uranium enrichment level permitted under the pact. The deal also was signed by Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China and Russia, all of which have remained in the pact even as they have criticized Iran for deviating from its provisions.

Iran’s foreign ministry said it would stay committed to the accord at the same level as the other signatories stay committed to it.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the deal “isn’t dead yet,” and that while the opportunity to find a resolution to the current crisis surrounding the agreement is closing, it is still possible to keep it alive.

He spoke ahead of talks with other European Union foreign ministers in Brussels where they planned to discuss the Iran situation.

Iran has long said its nuclear program was solely for peaceful purposes, and it won badly needed relief from sanctions in return for limiting its nuclear activity far below what would be needed to make a weapon.

Hunt said Monday that Iran was more than a year away from having the capability to build a nuclear device.

Hunt’s comments came a day after the publication of cables from former British ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch, who was critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying he did it as a snub to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.

In a May 2018 cable, Darroch wrote that the Trump administration, in abrogating the Iran deal last year, “is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons — it was Obama’s deal.”

The Mail on Sunday published Darroch’s message back to London, days after he resigned and a week after the newspaper published other leaked cables. In the earlier memos, the diplomat described the U.S. leader as “inept,” “insecure” and “incompetent” and his administration as “uniquely dysfunctional.”

Darroch resigned from his post Wednesday, saying his three-year posting in Washington had become untenable with the disclosure of his cables.

The leaked cables were meant to be seen only by senior British ministers and civil servants. British officials launched an investigation of the leaks but did not deny the accuracy of Darroch’s comments, expressing the opinion that the person likely responsible for the leak was someone inside the British government, not a foreign power…….. https://www.voanews.com/middle-east/iran-threatens-revert-pre-2015-nuclear-development-levels

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July 16, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran says reducing nuclear deal commitments to save it from ‘total collapse

Iran says reducing nuclear deal commitments to save it from ‘total collapse’, Press TV,  Jul 5, 2019 Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Tehran’s decision to scale down its commitments under the JCPOA is indeed aimed at protecting the multilateral deal, not killing it.

Back on May 8, Iran notified its remaining partners in the 2015 nuclear deal that it would suspend the implementation of some of its commitments in reaction to the US’ unilateral withdrawal and Europe’s failure to live up to its commitments.

Speaking in an exclusive email interview with The New York Times published on Thursday night, Zarif said Iran made the decision as it “can indeed prevent the deal from total collapse.”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “was and remains the best POSSIBLE agreement on the nuclear issue,” Zarif said, adding that its total collapse “will be detrimental to the interests of all, including the US.”

He said Iran “will remain committed to the deal as long as the remaining participants (EU, France, Germany, UK, Russia and China) observe the deal.”

“Survival or collapse of the JCPOA depends on the ability and willingness of all parties to invest in this undertaking. In a nutshell, a multilateral agreement cannot be implemented unilaterally,” Zarif said.

He also said that Iran’s decision to reduce its commitments was taken in line with its legal rights under paragraphs 26 and 36 of the nuclear deal, saying, “Paragraph 36 of JCPOA is a clear example that we negotiated this deal with the full understanding that we could not trust the commitment of the West.

As part of the first phase of scaling down its commitments, Iran exceeded the 300-kilogram limit set by the JCPOA on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles……….

The JCPOA obliges the European partners to prove their commitment to the nuclear deal in action, Zarif said, adding that the Islamic Republic would commit to the agreement in exactly the same way as those countries would.https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/05/600190/Iran-Zarif-JCPOA-nuclear-deal-commitments

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

U.S., Russia to discuss nuclear arms limits in Geneva on Wednesday –officials

U.S., Russia to discuss nuclear arms limits in Geneva on Wednesday –officials https://news.yahoo.com/u-russia-discuss-nuclear-arms-185425751.html

WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) – Representatives from the United States and Russia are set to meet in Geneva on Wednesday to explore the idea of a new accord limiting nuclear arms that could eventually include China, U.S. senior administration officials said on Monday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that he would like to see a new type of arms control deal with Russia and China to cover all types of nuclear weapons, a topic that he has discussed individually with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China is not currently a party to nuclear arms pacts between the United States and Russia.

The U.S. delegation will be led by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and will include Tim Morrison, a top aide at the White House National Security Council, as well as representatives from the Pentagon, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Security Agency, said the U.S. officials, who spoke to reporters on condition on anonymity.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, will lead the Russian delegation, the U.S. officials said.

“We actually feel that – touch wood – we’ve actually got to a point where we can try to start this again,” one of the officials said, listing off a long series of incidents that have soured relations between the United States and Russia during the past year.

“I say touch wood because we’re always just one incident away from unfortunately things getting derailed,” the official said. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton Editing by Marguerita Choy)

July 15, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How the Iran nuclear deal actually works

“I think in Iran, we are pretty confident that there is no undeclared plant”

How the Iran nuclear deal works, explained in 3 minutes

Iran is enriching uranium and breaking the limit set by the nuclear deal. Here’s what that means.

Uranium enrichment is a critical step in making nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. VOX, By Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment level of 3.67 percent set in the 2015 nuclear deal it made with world powers, a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency said, according to reports Monday.

The deal put tight restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the loosening of some international sanctions on the country. The 3.67 percent limitation on uranium enrichment purity was one of many limits in the deal meant to keep Iran from gathering enough material to build an atom bomb in a year if it chose to (Iran has never officially said it wants a nuclear weapon).

On Sunday, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said Iran would begin enriching uranium to 4.5 percent for its Bushehr power plant.

“This is to protect the nuclear deal, not to nullify it. … This is an opportunity for talks. And if our partners fail to use this opportunity, they should not doubt our determination to leave the deal,” Araghchi said.

The 4.5 percent enrichment is still well below the 90 percent considered weapons-grade. But the violation of the deal is a move meant “to pressure Europe to reset the terms of the nuclear agreement following a US withdrawal from the pact last year,” according to the Washington Post.

Given the extraordinary destructive power of a nuclear weapon, keeping a close eye on enrichment around the world is critical to global security. But in the decades since the Manhattan Project, the enrichment process has gone from a massive, power-hungry, brute-force operation to a sophisticated and potentially clandestine affair.

Since it’s immensely important in international diplomacy right now, it’s worthwhile to understand what goes into enriching nuclear material, how the nuclear process works, and the strategies for keeping it in check………

Given the extraordinary destructive power of a nuclear weapon, keeping a close eye on enrichment around the world is critical to global security. But in the decades since the Manhattan Project, the enrichment process has gone from a massive, power-hungry, brute-force operation to a sophisticated and potentially clandestine affair.

Since it’s immensely important in international diplomacy right now, it’s worthwhile to understand what goes into enriching nuclear material, how the nuclear process works, and the strategies for keeping it in check.

Under the NPT, countries that don’t currently possess nuclear weapons are prevented from developing or spreading nuclear weapons technologies, but they can pursue nuclear activities for peaceful purposes like research or energy.

In 2003, Iran was found to have violated nuclear activity reporting requirements in the NPT, which spurred the international effort to get Iran to suspend its enrichment work. The US has argued that Iran does not have the right to enrich uranium since it was caught violating some of the safeguards imposed by the NPT, though Iran has not violated the treaty itself.

The goal of the six countries that signed the JCPOA with Iran in 2015 was to limit what is called “breakout time.” That is, how long it would take Iran to enrich enough material for a nuclear weapon if the country suddenly decided to ditch all international agreements and aggressively ramp up enrichment.

Prior to the agreement, Iran’s breakout time was estimated at four to six weeks. The provisions of the deal (Vox’s Zack Beauchamp put together an excellent explainer on this) aimed to extend this to more than a year, which would give international observers time to detect such a shift and enact countermeasures.

In short, the agreement made Iran limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent and decommission about 14,000 of its centrifuges, allowing just roughly 5,000 of Iran’s first-generation units to keep spinning. These IR-1 centrifuges produce between 0.75 and 1 SWU per device, whereas the IR-8 centrifuges Iran was developing at the time of the deal could theoretically manage 24 SWU, making them much more efficient.

Iran also gave up much of its low-enriched uranium stockpile, going from 25,000 pounds to 660 pounds. Iranian officials also agreed to pour concrete into their Arak reactor, a potential source of plutonium for nuclear weapons.

In addition, the JCPOA requires round-the-clock monitoring of Iran’s enrichment facilities in Fordow and Natanz, with only the Natanz facility allowed to operate. These are likely the only places where Iran can enrich uranium for a weapon.

“I think in Iran, we are pretty confident that there is no undeclared plant,” said Alex Glaser, director of the Nuclear Futures Laboratory at Princeton University.

International observers are also monitoring Iran’s uranium mining operations.

As it stands, the agreement effectively eliminates Iran’s prospects for enriching enough uranium for a civilian nuclear program and makes it much more tedious to gather the material required for a weapon. What little enrichment Iran is allowed under the deal is effectively a face-saving measure.

But, critics argue, pausing Iran’s entire nuclear enrichment apparatus only extends the breakout time by a few months since the country could just rebuild or reinstall its centrifuges if it decided to leave the agreement. And it looks like that day may be getting closer: a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said Monday that the agency may increase the enrichment level to 20 percent or reinstall centrifuges.https://www.vox.com/2018/6/11/17369454/iran-uranium-enrichment

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief says -The world knows Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapon

The world knows Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapon: Guards chief https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-iran-guards-chief-idUSKCN1U324EGENEVA (Reuters) – The world knows that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, said on Monday, according to the Tasnim news agency.

Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity as its next potential big moves away from a 2015 nuclear agreement that Washington abandoned last year.

Why do they globally sanction us about the nuclear issue when the world knows that we are not pursuing a weapon? In reality they are sanctioning us because of knowledge,” he said. “Nuclear weapons have no place in Islam. Islam never approves of weapons of mass destruction.”

Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh, Editing by William Maclean

 

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia would be wise not to mindlessly follow USA into war against Iran

We must think very carefully before committing to war in the Gulf, The Age, By Hossein Esmaeili, July 8, 2019 Conflict between the United States and Iran is deepening and the two states are marching towards war. The Persian Gulf, where a third of the world’s natural gas and a fifth of the world’s oil is sourced, may soon see another large scale and probably long-lasting international conflict………

On Sunday, Iran announced it would enrich uranium beyond the nuclear deal limit unless the remaining parties – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – help reduce the paralysing US economic sanctions, which are strangling Iran’s economy. …….
Any war in the volatile environment of the Persian Gulf and the Middle East would not be, as Trump said, ‘‘quick and short’’, but rather a blazing regional and international conflict which may disturb the world economy and endanger global peace and security. ….
In late June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially called on Australia to play a role in a new global coalition against Iran. Following Pompeo’s request, Prime Minster Scott Morrison did not rule out possible Australian involvement in a possible military conflict between the US and Iran.  ……
After the events of September 11, 2001, John Howard invoked provisions of the 1951 ANZUS Treaty to demonstrate Australia’s support for the US in its war against the Taliban/al-Qaeda and later against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  …..
Australia has no legal obligations under the ANZUS Treaty, or any other international agreement, to join the US in another possibly long, chaotic and devastating regional conflict. Indeed, under the Charter of the United Nations, to which both Australia and the US are parties, the use of force is prohibited unless authorised by the Security Council of the United Nations.
Australia’s Prime Minister must think very carefully before committing Australia to a war that has virtually no international support, no international legal justification, and no rational justification. ……

the European Union is backing measures, provided by France, United Kingdom and Germany, known as Instruments In Support of Trade Exchange (INSTEX), to facilitate trade between the EU and Iran to partially get around the US sanctions, in order to save the 2015 nuclear deal, to maintain dialogue with Iran and to prevent an international military crisis.

Australia would be much wiser to join the EU’s INSTEX and engage in dialogue with Iran……..

Should Morrison decide to enter into a conflict in one of the most volatile regions of the world, he will not have the decision-making power to end it. He would do well not to drive Australia into such a war, instead, given Australia’s international reputation, he should help European countries, the world community and the United Nations to avoid a useless armed conflict, which will not benefit any country.

War with Iran won’t be like war with Iraq: significantly more pain, more bloodshed and more devastation for the entire world, including Australia, will be the result.

Hossein Esmaeili is an associate professor of international law at Flinders University.  https://www.theage.com.au/world/middle-east/we-must-think-very-carefully-before-committing-to-war-in-the-gulf-20190708-p52566.html

July 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Special UN meeting to discuss Iran: Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany try to keep nuclear deal

UN nuclear watchdog to hold special meeting on Iran at request of US,  RTE, 6 July 19 The United States has called an emergency meeting of the UN atomic watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors to discuss Iran, according to the US mission to the agency.

It comes after Tehran breached its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

Any country on the board can call a meeting, and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in a note to member states that the meeting would be held next Wednesday after the IAEA this week said Iran had exceeded the maximum stock of enriched uranium allowed under the deal……..

The IAEA is in charge of verifying the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities imposed by the deal, which also lifted international sanctions against Tehran. The IAEA has repeatedly said it is up to the parties to the deal to decide whether there has been a breach of its terms.

Iran has said it will go over the deal’s nuclear restrictions one by one in retaliation against crippling economic sanctions Washington has imposed on it since the US withdrawal. It has said that as of 7 July it will enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% purity cap imposed by the deal.

Other signatories to the 2015 deal, apart from Iran and the United States, are Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.     Those five countries are trying to keep the deal alive. https://www.rte.ie/news/2019/0706/1060486-un-nuclear-watchdog-iran/

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | 2 Comments

Israel lobby in US pushing for war against Iran: Analyst

 Press TV, Jul 5, 2019, The Israel lobby in the United States is pushing the administration of President Donald Trump to launch war against Iran because the regime in Tel Aviv does not want to fight Tehran itself, according to E Michael Jones, an American writer and former professor.

A new opinion poll shows that a vast majority of American voters oppose a military conflict with Iran and express support for US President Donald Trump’s decision last month not to launch a military strike against the Islamic Republic.

The Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, released to The Hill newspaper on Tuesday, found that 78 percent of voters said they believed Trump’s decision to call off the strike on Iran was the right move.

The survey also found that 57 percent of respondents were against military confrontation with Iran if the US was not directly attacked by the country……. https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/07/05/600234/Israel-lobby-in-US-pushing-for-war-against-Iran

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Iran, Israel, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s President Putin officially halts participation in nuclear treaty 

Putin signs bill suspending participation in nuclear treaty  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/03/world/putin-signs-bill-suspending-participation-nuclear-treaty/#.XR0oyOszbGg   3 July 19

President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill suspending Russia’s participation in a pivotal nuclear arms treaty.   Putin’s decree released on Wednesday formalizes Russia’s departure from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with the United States following Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.

The U.S. gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the INF in February, setting the stage for it to terminate in six months unless Moscow returns to compliance. Russia has denied any breaches, and accused the U.S. of violating the pact. Moscow followed Washington’s example in February, also suspending its obligations under the treaty.

Putin has warned the U.S. against deploying new missiles in Europe, saying that Russia will retaliate by fielding new fast weapons that will take just as little time to reach their targets.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

USA Has Put Europe In A Tough Spot On Iran

British Nuclear Expert Says U.S. Has Put Europe In A Tough Spot On Iran, NPR, July 2, 2019 Heard on All Things Considered

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:……….
RICHARD DALTON: The Europeans have been put in a position where, after more than a year of patience by Iran, it’s inevitable that they won’t be the only country observing the agreement in full. They are bound to negotiate to try and improve the position in which the United States has left them. But the trouble is that the United States is not showing any interest in putting forward terms that would be negotiable. Iran would, for example, go back into compliance if some of the restrictions on its sale of oil were permitted, thus allowing the Europeans to put more funds into the special purpose vehicle which they’ve put in place to facilitate trade in humanitarian goods.  …………
DALTON: Well, most British companies that were interested in trading with Iran are now no longer interested in doing so. There are some maintaining their links in the hope of profitable deals in future when the situation improves. What is needed now is a diplomatic effort involving not just the European Union but also the United States to take some of the heat out of the situation and set the stage for meeting some of the United States’ long term objectives for its diplomacy with Iran.

CORNISH: You used the term bully earlier in talking about the U.S. effort when it comes to Iran. Do you see this as a test of European power, whether it’s strong enough to oppose the U.S. and enforce this deal?

DALTON: European companies and the European Union recognize that the dominance of the dollar in international trading gives the United States very considerable power. And I believe that the Iran episode is going to be a turning point. It will show Russia, China, India, the European Union the value of building up alternative mechanisms for concluding international trade that do not use the dollar in any shape or form.

So I think the United States is set maybe to use their excessive power on this occasion but, over the long term, to lose power.  ……https://www.npr.org/2019/07/02/738146393/british-nuclear-expert-says-u-s-has-put-europe-in-a-tough-spot-on-iran

July 4, 2019 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate change at G20: nuclear included in plans, but not with enthusiasm

David Lowry’s Blog 2nd June 2019 Climate change was the only issue where consensus failed to be reached at the G20 meeting of leaders of the globe’s biggest economies, held in in
Osaka, Japan at the end of last week. Nuclear still is seen as having a
place in the energy mix, but without any real enthusiasm.  http://drdavidlowry.blogspot.com/2019/07/g20-in-osaka-blows-hot-and-cold-over.html

July 4, 2019 Posted by | climate change, politics international | Leave a comment

USA Security Adviser John Bolton denies report of ‘nuclear freeze’ agreement with North Korea

July 2, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Report that Trump administration is considering accepting North Korea as a nuclear power

New York Times: Trump administration mulling plan that would accept North Korea as a nuclear power, By Devan Cole, CNN July 1, 2019 Washington The Trump administration is mulling a potential deal with North Korea that would accept the country as a nuclear power if it freezes its existing nuclear programs in exchange for the US lifting its “most onerous” sanctions against the country, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The plan would aim to prevent more nuclear weapons from being created in the country, but “it would not, at least in the near future, dismantle any existing weapons, variously estimated at 20 to 60. Nor would it limit the North’s missile capability,” according to the paper.

The Times, which noted that US officials previously said they would never support such a plan, said officials in the administration hope the idea “might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations” with North Korea and noted that the administration’s current goal is still to fully denuclearize the country.

……. As a part of the plan reported by the Times, US negotiators would try to get North Korean negotiators to agree to “expand the definition” of Yongbyon, the country’s main nuclear-fuel production site. Under the potentially new definition of Yongbyon, the site would reach “beyond its physical barriers” to include various facilities around the country, including one where America and South Korea believe the country is producing uranium fuel.

A senior US official involved in North Korean policy told the Times “there was no way to know if North Korea would agree to this,” and noted that in the past, North Korean negotiators “insisted” that only Kim “could define what dismantling Yongbyon meant,” according to the report.

Stephen E. Biegun, the State Department’s special representative for North Korea, told the Times on Sunday that the paper’s account of the administration’s potential deal was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently,” saying, “What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate.”

White House national security adviser John Bolton also disputed the Times report Monday, tweeting that he read the story “with curiosity.”……….

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN’s John Berman that “the general idea of accepting the current nuclear arsenal, whatever it is, is a good start point.”

“I’ve come around to the position some months ago that perhaps as at least an initial plateau, in the interest of getting something done, it might be worth considering capping what the North Koreans have now and then maybe on a much longer term basis trying, you know, to get them to reduce their nuclear holdings to zero, which I think is going to be very difficult,” Clapper said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”

Clapper, who served in the Obama administration, said the plan reported by the Times would “require some very complex negotiations” and that it would need a verification regime, which “would be a hard pill for the North Koreans to swallow.”https://edition.cnn.com/2019/07/01/politics/north-korea-nuclear-freeze-trump-administration/index.html

July 2, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

‘Wonderful chemistry’ between Trump and Kim, as nuclear negotiations remain stalled

Keeping Up With the Plot of the Trump-Kim Nuclear Show, Bloomberg, By Jon Herskovitz and Youkyung Lee, July 1, 2019Three meetings between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea resulted in no concrete plans to end Pyongyang’s atomic ambitions. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have toned down hostile rhetoric since they first shook hands in Singapore in June 2018. They were cordial even after their second summit broke down in Hanoi in February, and took an historic stroll together into North Korea four months later. All the while, Pyongyang’s nuclear program quietly advanced as U.S.-backed sanctions choked its moribund economy. The two countries can’t agree on what the denuclearization of North Korea means and what rewards should be given, if any, in response to Pyongyang’s moves toward disarmament. But Trump has invited Kim to the White House, while a top aide to Kim has touted the “mysteriously wonderful” chemistry between the two leaders.

1. What have they agreed to?

The first summit resulted in a bare-bones declaration that contained four main items: To normalize ties between the U.S. and North Korea, formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, repatriate U.S. war remains and — crucially — “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But “work toward” is undefined. It’s also unclear whether the U.S. nuclear umbrella over South Korea is included. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo says that Kim accepted the “final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea.” North Korea points out the agreement referred to the entire peninsula and insists U.S. weapons must go at the same time, or it would be left vulnerable to attack. A meeting between Kim and Trump within the Demilitarized Zone in June 2019 led to an agreement to resume working-level talks that could iron out details of any deal.

2. What does the U.S. want?

To start, the U.S. wants North Korea to provide an inventory of weapons, facilities and fissile material it has produced. Kim’s regime calls that akin to asking for a “target list.” Further steps would include inspections, closing facilities and destroying weapons, and even surrendering nuclear material, according to proliferation experts. Past talks have faltered on the question of inspections and verification.

3. What does North Korea want?

Kim wants “corresponding measures,” or immediate rewards, for any steps his regime makes. In a televised New Year’s address, Kim threatened to take a “new path” if Washington didn’t relax crippling economic sanctions

He signaled that any deal might require weakening the U.S.-South Korean alliance, urging Seoul not to resume military exercises with the American side. And he made clear that he believed the denuclearization pledge includes “strategic assets” such as America’s nuclear-capable planes and warships. But his language was less bellicose than past years, possibly reflecting his limited options.

4. What has North Korea offered?

In Hanoi, North Korea offered to shut down parts of its Yongbyon nuclear complex, which has served as the crown jewel of its atomic program, in return for sanctions relief. The aging facility about 60 miles north of Pyongyang was once the main source of its fissile material, turning out roughly enough plutonium each year for one atomic bomb. But North Korea has since turned to uranium enrichment for weapons. Still, Yongbyon remains its main atomic research facility and a complete closure would affect its nuclear program…….. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-01/keeping-up-with-plot-of-the-trump-kim-nuclear-show-quicktake

July 2, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump says Iran ‘playing with fire’ after exceeding nuclear deal limit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) 2 July 19,  – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday Iran was playing with fire after Tehran said it had exceeded its limit for low-enriched uranium allowed under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Asked at a White House event if he had a message for Iran, Trump said he did not have a message, but Iran knew what it was doing and was “playing with fire.”  Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Grant McCool .https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-iran-usa-fire/trump-says-iran-playing-with-fire-after-exceeding-nuclear-deal-limit-idUSKCN1TW3X3

July 2, 2019 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment