Talks surrounding the state of Iran’s nuclear program have resumed in Vienna. Negotiators on both sides predicted the meeting’s success in the days leading up to the meeting, though early indications show that fundamental differences still exist between the two sides. The Iranian Foreign Ministry has alleged that it has accepted Western stipulations that only the “most recent sanctions” be limited, these being those passed since the implementation of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010. Sanctions were of course in place prior to 2010, though post-2010 sanctions are responsible for the bulk of the damage done to the Iranian economy. Repealing these “only” has led Western negotiators to state that Iran has offered to make “no significant concessions” with regards to its program, leaving the talks at a low point.
Further complicating the status of the talks is the domestic politics of both the United States and Iran. Earlier this week US President Obama intimated that he would circumvent the US Congress should a deal be made, in order to bypass a hostile US House of Representatives. Such an action could provide temporary sanctions relief and allow the US to uphold its end of any eventual deal, but could not be ratified as law and legally roll back such acts as the 2010 Divestment Act. Iranian hardliners have also shown increasing opposition to any deal, and have moved to impeach more than one key cabinet member of President Hassan Rouhani, and replace them with conservatives that opposes Iran’s supposed “move towards the middle” with relation to the West.
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- Ukraine and Russia have reached an agreement over the supply of natural gas for the winter after a long showdown between the two over gas debts and the ongoing civil war. Gazprom had shut off gas supplies to Ukraine in June, raising concerns that Ukraine would have no heating during the long winter, and additionally that Russia would cut off gas supplies to Europe if Ukraine began siphoning from their pipelines. Talks between Putin and Poroshenko in Milan over the weekend discussed how to cover the debts of Naftogaz and the only remaining variable is where the financing will come from.
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