Iran: IAEA deadline passed, likelihood of deal falters

Last week, Iran failed to meet a deadline to provide crucial data on its past nuclear enrichment program, the IAEA said. This marks the first time the agency has failed to resolve an issue relating to Iran’s potential nuclear deal with the P5+1 powers. As a result, the IAEA team will have to make its assessment on the basis of incomplete information to draw a definitive conclusion about the country’s nuclear program ahead of the November 24 deadline, a revelation which has caused some domestic politicians in the United States to withdraw their support for the deal. The lack of a conclusive assessment means that the final decision will be in the hands of diplomats in charge of negotiations.

The IAEA’s board of governors will convene again September 15 in Vienna, which will overlap with the next round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers (China, France, Russia, UK, US, plus Germany). As news of this missed deadline have come to light, various experts have been downgrading expectations for deal to be struck – with Eurasia Group’s Cliff Kupchan decreasing his expectations from 60% to 40% last week, citing that with the current news about the IAEA, hawks on both sides will block any additional extension of these negotiations.

Official statements from Iran reaffirmed its commitment to the nuclear negotiations and for a comprehensive deal to be reached. But splinters are showing, as Iranian lawmakers publicly denounce the US as the primary obstructionist in the negotiations, and with Ayatollah Khameini recovering the hospital from surgery, it is unclear how much support Rouhani’s coalition maintains within the Iranian power structure.

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News Briefs: 

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry will soon hold talks with American officials who have claimed Russia has violated the terms of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. American officials have alleged that Russia violated the terms of the INF Treaty by continuing to manufacture ground-based missile launchers which have a reach of up to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty was signed back in 1987 though Russia claims that a joint committee governing the agreement ceased to convene in 2003.
  • Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently was committed a hospital in Tehran toundergo surgery for prostate cancer. The report on the supreme leader’s health provides a rare window into the health of the Iranian leader, though the outcome of the surgery, as well as its degree of urgency, has been described as “routine.” Iranian state media released the report of the surgery in order to urge the Iranian populace to pray for him.
  • Mongolia has declared that it will increase trade relations with Russia in order to reach a total of $10 billion within the next six years. The Mongolian government has sought to develop stronger relations with both of its influential neighbors, and recently negotiated closer ties with China as well. The Mongolian government in Ulan Bator emphasized economic and trade relations with Mongolia, as well as the doling out of Russian rubles to Mongolian exporters.
  • Russia has admitted to the presence of Russian citizens fighting among the rebels in eastern Ukraine, though it has labeled them as mere “volunteers,” and not paid members of the Russian military. The statement, which is unlikely to convince many of those critical of Russian military action in east Ukraine, comes as media sources in Ukraine, Russia and the West verify the death of Russian paratroopers in Ukrainian conflict zones. Russia has denied accusations of tampering with the national integrity of Ukraine vehemently.

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