Ongoing nuclear negotiations in Vienna between the P5+1 powers and Iran have faltered in recent weeks as the deadline agreed upon last November rapidly approaches. British Foreign Minister William Hague made a public statement that expressed concern about the gulf of differences that remain on any potential agreement, saying that any deal was far from certain and that no extension of the deadline should be considered. The other powers (US, Russia, China, France, and Germany) have yet to comment on any specific framework, opting for a comprehensive agreement that addresses all Western concerns and alleviates sanctions for Iran without the need for further negotiations.
The deadline is July 20. Negotiations have entered into their sixth round as of last week, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton officially presiding over the negotiations. The main sticking point, as always, remains the enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade levels, which Iran insists is not the aim of its program. The P5+1 powers want assurances in the form of destroyed and dismantled centrifuges and international oversight.
The media has been focusing on a potential West-Iran partnership on Iraq, which has been invaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and has been a major cause for concern for American spectators in particular but has also demonstrated how Iran and Western powers could work together on issues of mutual interest.
Follow us on Twitter: @SteppeDispatch
- The former mayor of the southwest Russian autonomous region of Dagestan was sentenced to ten years in prison for colluding to carry out the assassination of a political rival. The conviction of Said Amirov, mayor between 1988 and 2013, came after a Russian military court accused him of using an anti-aircraft missile to bring down the head of a state pension fund. Amirov has labeled the charges a fabrication and insisted that they are politically motivated.
- A Kyrgyz border guard was wounded in another spat of violence along the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border. The two countries have been exchanging fire over the last few months over zoning disputes, and though efforts have been made to quell fears of a much longer conflict, tensions are still high.
- The United Nations reports that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have reached an all-time high during the first half of 2014. The current number of civilian casualties has risen by 24%, with the situation worsening for civilians living in Afghanistan’s southwestern provinces surrounding Kandahar, where violence is often most intense and where the Taliban have the most control
- Four ethnic Uighurs were arrested in China’s restive Xinjiang province for the brutal murder of a police officer who had been recently been tipped to run an anti-terror campaign throughout the province. Four Uighurs staged an automotive accident, lured the officer from his car, and stabbed him more than 40 times before dumping his body in a reservoir near Peyziwat county in the Kashgar prefecture.