France said Iran must quickly answer U.N. questions on its atomic past to defuse a nuclear standoff by a July cutoff date, Reuters reports.
Iran’s disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency are “progressing too slowly,” French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nedal said on Tuesday.
The U.N. organization last week reported that Tehran had elaborated days earlier on its prior work with “exploding bridgewire detonators,” which can help to trigger nuclear explosions, Reuters reported separately. The watchdog agency said the disclosures marked Iran’s first substantive engagement since 2008 with an investigation aimed at determining whether arms ambitions have partly motivated the country’s nuclear efforts, which ostensibly are entirely peaceful.
The French foreign ministry spokesman said that “concrete results [in the IAEA-Iran talks] are indispensable before the possible finalization of a long-term [nuclear] agreement” between Tehran and six other governments. The sides are pushing for a deal to restrict Iran’s weapon-usable atomic activities and lift sanctions against the Persian Gulf power.
“More needs to be done between now and July,” the official added. Negotiators want to complete a deal by July 20, when an interim accord is scheduled to expire.
IAEA officials still have a significant number of questions, making it likely that some will remain unanswered by the July goal date, according to the Los Angeles Times. That would leave the six other negotiating powers with the task of assessing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.
The European Union on Tuesday said Iran and the six powers would launch five days of high-level nuclear discussions on June 16, Reuters reported. The announcement came after EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton spoke on Monday and Tuesday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif about options for moving the negotiations forward.
What We're Following See More »
Given the Senate's inaction on the continuing budget resolution (so far), the White House "said it has begun to work with agencies to prepare for the possibility of a large swath of the federal workforce being furloughed without pay beginning at midnight." Even if a shutdown occurs, however, "Senate procedures will allow the chamber to approve the CR with only a handful of Democrats in support by Sunday morning. Of the roughly 900,000 federal employees who were subject to furloughs in agencies’ most recent calculations, most would not be materially impacted as they do not work on weekends."
President Obama has called for a "full review" of the hacking that took place during the 2016 election cycle, according to Obama counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco. Intelligence officials say it is highly likely that Russia was behind the hacking. The results are not necessarily going to be made public, but will be shared with members of Congress.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are threatening to block the spending bill—and prevent the Senate from leaving town—"because it would not extend benefits for retired coal miners for a year or pay for their pension plans. The current version of the bill would extend health benefits for four months. ... Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Thursday afternoon moved to end debate on the continuing resolution to fund the government through April 28. But unless Senate Democrats relent, that vote cannot be held until Saturday at 1 a.m. at the earliest, one hour after the current funding measure expires."
The South Korean parliament voted on Friday morning to impeach President Park Geun-hye over charges of corruption, claiming she allowed undue influence to a close confidante of hers. Ms. Park is now suspended as president for 180 days. South Korea's Constitutional Court will hear the case and decide whether to uphold or overturn the impeachment.