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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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.