Diplomats say they are tackling an entrenched uranium-enrichment standoff, as talks resume on Iran’s disputed nuclear activities, the New York Times reports.
The focus emerged as Iran and six other countries prepared for new negotiations in Vienna over potential long-term limits on Tehran’s atomic efforts, which Western powers see as cover for development of a nuclear-arms capability. The Middle Eastern nation denies any intention to refine uranium into nuclear-bomb fuel, and has raised the possibility of expanding its current fleet of 19,000 enrichment centrifuges to include 50,000 or more of the machines.
The United States, though, is urging Iran to cut its existing enrichment capacity so it would need more than 12 months to refine enough uranium for a bomb. Robert Einhorn, who stepped down in 2013 as U.S. State Department special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, last week wrote that more than “a few thousand first-generation [Iranian] centrifuges” would be unacceptable.
Past months of negotiations have focused largely on less divisive issues, resulting partly in a tentative offer by Iran to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to generate less weapon-usable plutonium upon activation.
Speaking on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said “Arak and transparency [appear] riper than all other items on the agenda for getting primary results … by Friday,” ITAR-Tass reported.
Information on Iran’s past atomic activities may emerge as a sticking point, Western envoys told Reuters for a Tuesday report. A Monday meeting between Tehran and the U.N. nuclear watchdog reportedly did not yield substantial traction.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to meet late on Tuesday with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is representing the six other negotiating governments, the Los Angeles Times reported. Three days of discussions are slated to begin on Wednesday, with delegates from Iran as well as China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."