Kerry and Zarif discuss nuclear deal one-on-one
Steven Erlanger, The New York Times – February 2, 2014
While at the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met for over an hour to discuss the interim nuclear deal and the way forward. Kerry reportedly emphasized that existing sanctions will be enforced until a further deal is brokered, while Zarif said in a later interview that Iran would not cease research on more advanced centrifuges.
Iran receives sanctions relief
Julian Pecquet, The Hill – February 1, 2014
Iran received $500 million in sanctions relief over the weekend, the first of several installments of sanctions relief to be granted over the six-month term of the interim nuclear deal.
Obama to visit Saudi Arabia in effort to sell Iran deal
Roberta Rampton, Eric M. Johnson, and Ken Wills, Reuters – February 1, 2014
In an attempt to shore up a shaky alliance, President Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March and meet with Saudi King Abdullah. Saudi Arabia has opposed an rapprochement with Iran and remains skeptical of any deal that could bring Iran back into the fold, possibly enhancing Iran’s status in the region. The meeting between heads of state will also focus on Syria.
Obama has “won the war on sanctions”
Stacy Kaper, The National Journal – February 2, 2014
For now, it seems the push for a new sanctions bill has lost steam, thanks in part to vigorous personal lobbying by President Obama and high-level figures in the administration. But a weakened opposition–that is, a fragmented pro-Israel lobby–and pressure from liberal media outlets also played a large role in stalling the push for the Kirk-Menendez bill (S. 1881).
Hagel phones nuclear launch crews under investigation
Robert Burns, AP – February 1, 2014
While flying back from the Munich Security Conference, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel called six members of the nuclear launch crews at Malmstrom Air Force Base to update them on the Department of Defense’s renewed efforts to strengthen morale among these forces. In the wake of a cheating scandal that has now encircled about 90 officers, Hagel has called for a full review of the crews.
Libyan chemical weapons have been destroyed
Eric Schmitt, The New York Times – February 2, 2014
In the past three months, the United States has led the effort to eliminate Libya’s stocks of chemical weapons, and the last such weapons was destroyed on January 26. The effort was considered especially pressing given the instability of the Libyan government and the potential for chemical weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists.
Syria dragging its feet on chemical weapons
Stephen Brown, Reuters – January 31, 2014
The planned elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons will not proceed on schedule. Syria has given up only about 5% of its chemical weapons (out of 1,300 tons) to date, and it will miss the original deadline by which it was supposed to turn over all its chemical weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry has called on Russia to prod the Syrian regime toward more progress on this ffront.