Iran and six key nations on Wednesday began work on a possible compromise text for resolving a long-running nuclear standoff, Reuters reports.
The start to the discussions in Vienna marked a turning point in a months-long push to clear up international fears that numerous Iranian atomic activities are directed toward development of a nuclear-arms capacity. Insiders have signaled possible progress over specific points of dispute — including an Iranian heavy-water reactor capable of generating bomb-usable plutonium — but negotiators must still determine how to assemble a complete agreement.
Success is far from certain, a high-level U.S. insider told reporters. Tehran denies harboring plans to potentially build an atomic arsenal, but has voiced openness to adopting long-term nuclear restrictions in exchange for sanctions relief from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“This is very, very difficult,” the U.S. official said, adding that “no one can predict what the overall comprehensive plan of action will look like from dissecting any one piece of it in isolation.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered similar remarks after a Tuesday meeting with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who has represented the six other negotiating powers.
“This is going to be a difficult and time consuming exercise,” the Xinhua News Agency quoted Zarif as saying.
An Ashton spokesman said envoys completed a “useful initial discussion” early on Wednesday, and would convene further planning sessions in coming hours, Reuters reported.
“We are now hoping to move to a new phase of negotiations in which we will start pulling together what the outline of an agreement could be. All sides are highly committed,” the spokesman said.
The sides are pushing to complete a final agreement by July 20, when an interim accord negotiated in November is slated to lapse.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”