Independent analysts on Thursday said Iran might not need more than a month to produce enough atomic material for one weapon in a hypothetical “breakout,” USA Today reported.
“Shortening breakout times have implications for any negotiation with Iran,” the Institute for Science and International Security analysis states. “An essential finding is that [these breakouts, or indications of how long it would take to turn low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade fuel] are currently too short and shortening further.”
In Washington, Senator Mark Kirk (R- Ill.) in response to the report urged the Senate to “immediately” pass new legislation expanding existing sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation, in order “to prevent Iran from acquiring an undetectable breakout capability.” The existing economic penalties leveraged by the United States are aimed at pressuring Tehran to address fears that its formally civilian atomic activities are covering for development of a nuclear-arms capability.
The Obama administration, though, on Thursday reportedly asked the Senate to postpone consideration of any new sanctions, as new nuclear negotiations begin between Iranian diplomats and counterparts from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany. The sides have scheduled an Oct. 30-31 meeting of technical specialists, Reuters reported on Friday.
Before those talks, Iran is slated to confer separately with a U.N. agency on potentially clearing the way for a stalled nuclear probe. Envoys believe Monday’s discussion could lead to agreements helping the International Atomic Energy Agency investigate whether Tehran once engaged in scientific activities relevant to atomic-arms development, according to a Reuters article from Friday.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is separately expected to hold an hour-long meeting on Monday with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, the wire service quoted the U.N. nuclear watchdog as saying. The one-on-one discussion would take place prior to the broader nuclear-probe talks.
Iran, meanwhile, appears to be selling less petroleum to other countries this month than at any point since early this year, suggesting importers in Asia and elsewhere have not immediately responded to the Middle Eastern nation’s recent outreach in the longstanding nuclear dispute, Reuters reported.
The Persian Gulf power’s crude petroleum exports for this month could be almost 30 percent smaller than its equivalent total from last October, said analysts tracking Iranian oil vessels.
The news agency pinned the lagging sales, in part, on the U.S. sanctions. State buyers of Iranian crude are likely still limiting their imports in an effort to continue receiving half-year waivers from measures, adopted in early 2012, that threaten any country failing to continuously restrict petroleum purchases from the Middle Eastern nation.
The European Union last year enacted an Iranian-oil embargo in response to tensions over Tehran’s nuclear activities. More recently, EU nations are acting to reinstate a number of Iran sanctions struck down in judiciary decisions, envoys told Reuters for a Friday report.
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In a release Tuesday afternoon, the White House announced that President Obama has commuted and/or reduced the sentences of another 111 convicted criminals, mostly convicted of drug possession or trafficking. About 35 were serving life sentences.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Monday he'd now be willing to hold a hearing on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in a lame-duck session of Congress. While he said he wouldn't push for it, he said if "Hillary Clinton wins the White House, and a majority of senators convinced him to do so," he would soften his previous opposition.
We can call this the anti-Sherman-esque statement: If reelected, Marco Rubio ... might serve his whole term. Or he might not. The senator, who initially said he wouldn't run for a second term this year, now tells CNN that if reelected, he wouldn't necessarily serve all six years. “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future is gonna hold in your life, personally or politically,” he said, before adding that he's prepared to make his Senate seat the last political office he ever holds.
Since Rodrigo Duterte took over as president of the Philippines in June, he has made a serious of controversial statements and launched a war on drugs that has led to nearly 2000 deaths. He called the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, "a gay son of a bitch." Next week, President Obama will meet with President Duterte at the East Asia Summit in Laos, where he " will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines," according to White House Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes.
The Convention of States Project, which seeks to force a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution, will hold a "dry run" in Colonial Williamsburg starting Sept. 21. "Several states have already followed the process in Article V to endorse the convention." Thirty-four are required to call an actual convention. "The dry run in Williamsburg is meant to show how one would work and focus on the changes and potential constitutional amendments that would be proposed."