The U.N. atomic watchdog said Iran has not made “radical” changes to its nuclear program in recent months, as the international community has looked for signs that its new government will curb atomic activities, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is poised to release a quarterly report on Iran in the coming days — and the U.N. body’s leader suggested it will show the country has neither significantly curbed nor expanded its uranium-enrichment work during the August-to-November period.
“I can say that enrichment activities are ongoing … no radical change is reported to me,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told Reuters in an interview in Vienna.
The IAEA quarterly assessment is the first one conducted since the moderate Hassan Rouhani became president in August, when he replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an uncompromising conservative.
Amano reportedly said Iran is continuing to enrich uranium to 20 percent, which could be quickly converted to bomb fuel. There have been mixed reports about whether Tehran has stopped such enrichment to 20 percent.
Amano, though, also reportedly said that Iran has not significantly increased its uranium-enrichment work over the three-month timeframe.
Since Rouhani came to office, Iran has been negotiating with both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the “P-5+1” nations — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany — about curbing is nuclear activities. Tehran insists its atomic-development work is peaceful in nature, though international skeptics fear it is oriented toward weapons development.
Iran on Monday agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct inspections of two nuclear sites. An Iranian official on Tuesday added the review of the new Arak heavy-water nuclear reactor could be conducted before his country and the U.N. body resume talks on Dec. 11.
Amano told Reuters that Iran still had “quite a lot to do” to complete the Arak reactor, which is intended to produce plutonium.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday planned to ask the Senate Banking Committee to not expand economic sanctions against Iran while the P-5+1 countries continue talks with Iran, which thus far have not yielded a long-sought deal to curb Iranian atomic activities.
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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.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."