Second day of Nuclear Talks
Fredrik Dahl and Justyna Pawlak, Reuters – February 19, 2014
The P5 + 1 and Iran sat down for another day of talks in Vienna in hopes for a final settlement to the decade-old standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. “The talks are going surprisingly well. There haven’t been any real problems so far,” said a senior Western diplomat. The opening session on Tuesday was to set an agenda and timetable of what is going to be a medium- to long-term process. Both the U.S. and Iran officials have downplayed the possibility for any early or optimistic agreement, citing time to be most crucial for any possibility for a deal.
Iran and Missiles
Jay Solomon, Wall Street Journal – February 18, 2014
Talks began on Tuesday in Vienna with the U.S. pushing Tehran to agree that the deal should include agreements on Iran’s expanding missile capabilities. The U.S. and its allies view Iran’s ballistic missile program as part of the country’s nuclear threat, as missiles can be used to deliver a potential nuclear weapon. Iran, however, has said the missiles are part of its defense system and are beyond the limits of nuclear talks. The outcome of whether this missile issue will be discussed over the next months is to be determined.
Saudis may go nuclear because of Iran Deal
Eli Lake and Josh Rogin, Daily Beast – February 14, 2014
Saudi Arabia has shown more interest in potentially “going nuclear,” especially with Obama’s Iran nuclear deal. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman has told Saudi Arabia that any bargain with Iran would most likely leave Tehran with the capacity to enrich uranium, something the Saudis do not support. Western and Israeli intelligence services are starting to see signs that interest in Saudi nuclear enrichment is growing more serious. “They view developments in Iran very negatively. They have money, they can buy talent, they can buy training…The Saudis are thinking through how do you create a deterrent through capability,” said David Albright, former weapons inspector.
Nuclear Peace Activists Sentenced 3-5 years
Travis Loller, Associated Press – February 19, 2014
Susan Rice, the 84-year-old nun, and two other fellow Catholic peace activists were sentenced on Tuesday for breaking into a nuclear storage bunker in July 2012. Rice was given just under three years in prison while Greg Boerje-Obed and Michael Walli were each sentenced for five years. The three activists will have to pay nearly $53,000 in restitution to the government for damage to an exterior wall of the bunker. “I make no apology. I have no sense of remorse or shame. I would do it again,” said Walli. Though there was no danger of the protestors reaching materials that could be detonated, the break-in raised major security questions, which was exactly what the activists wanted to point out in their act.
Saudis provide rebel opposition “manpad” missiles
Maria Abi-Habib and Stacy Meichtry, Wall Street Journal – February 14, 2014
In disappointment with the Syria peace talks, the Saudis have agreed to provide Syrian rebels more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets. This is the first time Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition “Manpads” and antitank guided missiles from Russia. The U.S. has strongly opposed giving the rebels antiaircraft missiles in fear that they could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them against the West or commercial airplanes. The Saudis have held off offering the rebels with these weapons in the past because of U.S. opposition, but have now changed their minds.