Iran hopes nuclear deal drafting can start by mid-May
Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl, Reuters – April 7, 2014
Iran said it hopes enough progress will be made with major powers this week to enable negotiators to start drafting by mid-May a final accord to settle the long dispute over its nuclear program. The Islamic Republic and the 6 world powers will meet this week in Vienna for a third round of talks intended to reach a comprehensive agreement by July 20. So far, officials have said they have focused on what issues should form part of a long-term deal. “We will finish all discussions and issues this time to pave the ground for starting to draft the final draft,” said Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. As U.S. official gave a similar timeline last week, voicing hope that the drafting of the final agreement could begin in May.
Iran upbeat on nuclear talks, sticky issues being addressed
Mehrdad Balali and Eric Walsh, Reuters – April 5, 2014
Experts met with world powers this past weekend in Vienna to address all major issues in way of a final settlement. “The meetings were useful, raised mutual insight into our differing positions. Everyone came well-prepared…addressing issues in minute technical details can facilitate hard political decisions,” Iranian negotiator Hamid Baeedinejad said after the 3 days talks. The results of these 3 days talks have been submitted today to Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton who are to hold their third round of talks April 8-9. “Talks will continue on enrichment and other (sensitive) issues until final settlement,” he added.
North Korea tells world ‘wait and see’ on new nuclear test
Michelle Nichols, Reuters – April 4, 2014
On Friday, North Korea said that the world would have to “wait and see” when asked for details of “a new form” of nuclear test it threatened to carry out after the U.N. Security Council condemned Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile launch in March. “The DPRK made it very clear, we will carry out a new form of nuclear test. But I recommend you to wait and see what it is,” North Korea’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ri Tong Il said on Friday. Ri also accused the U.S. of being “hell bent on regime change in North Korea” by blaming its leaders for human rights violations.
Activists launch effort to improve MOX oversight
Phillip Swarts, The Washington Times – April 5, 2014
A group of activists have decided to take things into their own hands after declaring the Energy’s Department oversight of nuclear activities so bad. Organizers of the new organization, “Savannah River Site Watch” said they hope their new website will help improve public scrutiny of the DOE’s South Carolina MOX research facility. “As it is the Department of Energy’s nature to operate outside public scrutiny, our job will be to highlight to SRS programs that warrant public attention and involvement,” said Tom Clements, the group director and former government employee. Last year, the DOE’s construction of the nuclear fuel facility ballooned by $3 billion for no reason that investigators could find, resulting in President Obama announcing to put the facility on “cold standby” for FY 2015. South Carolina state government threatened to fine DOE last year for failing to clean up nuclear waste; the clean-up was supposed to be done by 2023 but work has progressed so slowly that the agency now expects it won’t be done until the 2040s.
Plutonium from Japan could end up at Savannah River Site
Derrek Asberry, Aiken Standard – April 6, 2014
President Obama recently announced that the U.S. secured more than 700 pounds of weapons-grade plutonium from Japan. The administration considers the move a win, as securing nuclear materials have been part of its agenda for several years; however local officials are not celebrating, since many worry the material will eventually end up at the Savannah River Site. NNSA spokeswoman Keri Fulton said, “For security reasons, we cannot disclose the location of the final destination [of the material]. The final determination of where the material will be processed is yet to be decided.” Local officials in Savannah have already begun taking a stand as a precaution, making it clear they would be against bringing the material to Savannah River Site. Board member of SRS Citizens Advisory Board said, “My point is…we did not want to receive additional receipts of foreign nuclear materials, and that we should be cleaning up legacy waste that’s already on-site instead of bringing in new materials.”
Russia unfazed by suspension of antimissile talks with U.S.
Global Security Newswire – April 4, 2014
Russia is unfazed by the U.S. announcement last week that antimissile cooperation talks between the two countries have been suspended due to events in Ukraine. The two countries had been holding preliminary discussions on areas of possible missile defense collaboration; however, the talks never gained much traction due to fundamental differences over U.S. missile interceptors in Europe, which Russia sees as a threat to its nuclear arsenal. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in response to suspension of talks: “I need to say that cooperation does not exist in this sphere…The American side is well aware of the fact that opportunities for such cooperation could emerge if Washington agreed to heed to our demands.” Former Russian head of the defense ministry’s international agreements department added, saying, “Talks or no talks, they don’t make a difference anyway.”