IAEA establishes Iran Task Force
George Jahn, AP – August 29
The U.N. nuclear agency has created a special Iran Task Force of nuclear weapons experts, intelligence analysts and other specialists focused on probing allegations that Tehran has been — or is — secretly working on developing atomic arms, according to an internal document shared with The Associated Press. The announcement from the International Atomic Energy Agency says the elite squad started work Aug. 10. Dated Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency statement says the unit will concentrate on implementing IAEA agreements with Iran, allowing it to monitor its nuclear activities as mandated by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
U.N. Leader to Tell Iran of Criticisms, an Aide Says
Rick Gladstone, New York Times – August 28
The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, expects to discuss the disputed Iranian nuclear program, the Syria conflict and the need to provide “greater space” for Iranian political freedoms when he talks with Iran’s leaders during a visit to Tehran this week for the Nonaligned Movement meeting, his spokesman said Tuesday. The spokesman, Farhan Haq, also did not rule out the possibility that Mr. Ban would seek to meet with opposition political figures in Iran whose movements and communications have been largely restricted since the authorities crushed protests that followed the disputed election of the conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to a second term in June 2009.
Iran Agenda Faces ‘Realities’ At World Gathering
Associated Press – August 28
Iranian officials have made no secret about their massive ambitions for this week’s nonaligned nations’ gathering, with a guest list including leaders such as Egypt’s president and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Tehran seeks to assert itself on a host of issues before the meetings close Friday: Syria’s civil war, sidestepping Western sanctions, promoting its nuclear narrative and seeking to ease long-standing Middle East friction with rivals in Cairo and the Gulf. Yet it is likely to face substantial pushback. While the country’s leaders see the weeklong gathering of the 120-nation Nonaligned Movement as a major step toward validating Iran as a rising power, it also could highlight its limits and liabilities in the region and further afield.
Japan, North Korea hold first talks in 4 years amid hopes of a fresh approach from Pyongyang
Associated Press – August 29, 2012
Officials from Japan and North Korea held their first government-to-government talks in four years on Wednesday, amid hopes that new leader Kim Jong Un will adopt a less confrontational approach to relations between his isolated, impoverished communist state and the outside world. The talks are being held at the Japanese Embassy in China, the North’s closest ally and biggest aid source, which has been subtly pushing for economic reforms and a more cooperative tone. They are being described as preliminary discussions to pave the way for full-fledged talks in the future covering a broader agenda.
NATO transition in Afghanistan ‘irreversible’
AFP – August 28, 2012
The transfer of security control from a US-led international mission to Afghan troops has reached an irreversible phase, a top NATO commander said Tuesday, as he outlined moves to stem insider attacks on NATO forces. “We have now reached a phase where the transition is irreversible,” said Germany’s General Wolf Langheld, chief of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command (JFC), based in Brunssum in the southeastern Netherlands. “Afghan police and security forces are now in the lead to provide security in 75 percent of the country,” he told journalists.
Romney’s Defense-Budget Growth Tops Cold War Pace
Rob Levinson and Cameron Leuthy, Bloomberg – August 29, 2012
Governor Mitt Romney’s national security policies reflect the Oliver-Twistian mindset of the Republican establishment on defense issues. They want some more. How Romney obliges that impulse illustrates the dilemma of trying to satisfy a military-industrial complex whose business models and profit margins are based on fixed diets.
Loose nukes? Got a solution? Contact the State Department
Jill Dougherty, CNN – August 28, 2012
Have an idea about how to prevent “loose nukes” from falling into the hands of terrorists? The State Department wants to hear from you. The department is launching what it’s calling the Innovation in Arms Control Challenge, which urges “garage tinkerers and technologists … gadget entrepreneurs and students,” to come up with innovative new ideas to support U.S. arms control and nonproliferation efforts.