Faced with a looming deadline next week, Iran’s Chief Negotiator Abbas Araqchi has conceded to a vital portion of the proposed deal between the P5+1 Powers and Iran, stating they could accept a deal that would freeze their capacity to produce nuclear fuel at current levels for many years, provided that after this the program would be treated like any other peaceful nuclear enterprise. The proposal was given to the six powers last night behind closed doors at the Vienna negotiations, and its stipulations include provisions for Iran to get tiered relief from sanctions that have nearly collapsed its economy.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif pitched the proposal as satisfying the American goal of limiting the amount and purity of nuclear fuel for a number of years, but also confirmed he is attempting to balance this goal with trying to satisfy military and clerical leadership in Iran, who are determined not to dismantle the Arak facility.
The breakthrough came after US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Javad Zarif yesterday after returning from Afghanistan. The number they eventually agreed upon was 9,400 centrifuges, which some critics say is not a significant enough reduction in the enrichment program and it would be easy to reverse the concession. But with Ayatollah Khamenei releasing public statements on the regular about never conceding to Western demands, the change in tone and consideration of the deal appears to be significant.
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- Six ethnic Han Chinese farmers were stabbed to death in Xinjiang province. The assault, but the latest incidence of violence in China’s troubled western province, appears t to form part of a concerted effort to sow fear in the hearts of ethnic Chinese that have been encouraged to migrate to the region from more populated areas of China. Radio Free Asia announced that seven men are suspected of the attack, and are likely to be identified as ethnic Uighurs, the traditional inhabitants of the region and in some cases outspoken opponents of the Chinese government.
- The United States has made it known that Iran must significantly limit its nuclear enrichment activities for a period of ten years in order any lasting deal to be brokered. The foreign ministers of the P5+1, as well as Iran, convened recently following reports that progress was deteriorating and that failure was imminent. Tensions have risen as the United States, in particular, has threatened to end talks if Iran did not take more serious steps to reduce the scope of its nuclear program.
- The troubles facing much-celebrated Uzbek first daughter Gulnara Karimova continue, with Radio Free Europe reporting that known associates of the controversial former diplomat were sentenced to more than six years in prison. Rustam Mudumarov and Gayane Avakian were sentenced on charges ranging from illegal business activities, money laundering and tax evasion, many of the same charges that had previously been levied against Karimova. It is uncertain whether or not Karimova has allowed her two former confidants to take the fall for her as she remains on house arrest near Tashkent.
- The Pakistani military has begun to implement large amounts of barb wire along the Afghan-Pakistani border, sparking Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s National Security Council to announce an investigation into the matter under the pretense of determining whether or not the wire is being installed in the correct demarcation points. The 2,640 km (1,640 mi) Durand Line separates the two countries and has been criticized consistently due to what critics cite as poor Pakistani border security.
- Ukraine will need to import up to 7.25 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas between August of 2014 and March 2015. The Ukrainian government announced the estimate this past weekend, and expects to reach its goal by importing the majority of its reserves from EU, by means of pipelines in Hungary, Poland Slovakia. Russia, Ukraine’s traditional supplier of energy, cut its supply of gas to Ukraine on June 16, and has yet to reopen relations with Kiev.