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.
What We're Following See More »
"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."
President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.
In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."
President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.