A new development in negotiations with Iran has provoked new optimism in a deal that had stagnated over after Tehran blocked IAEA access to select facilities. Iran has tentatively agreed to send the vast majority of its uranium to Russia, should a wider deal be reached with the West. Upon arrival in Moscow, the uranium would be converted into nuclear rods, making their use as a nuclear weapon a virtual impossibility.
The possibility that Iranian uranium ends up in Moscow is an enticing one to Western officials as it would allay fears among policymakers in Washington and Brussels that an unencumbered and emboldened Iran could still produce a nuclear weapon. Moreover, sending uranium to Russia instead of to one of the Western nations would save Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif from domestic criticism, given Russia’s current status as a pariah state vis-à-vis the United States and Europe. The development, while potentially significant in facilitating a lasting agreement, is still contingent upon the signing of an agreement.
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- Uzbekistan announced the establishment of 44 polling stations outside of Uzbekistan, in an effort to dote its much-criticized election process with renewed legitimacy. The polling stations will be made available to Uzbek citizens living abroad to cast ballots in the country’s parliamentary elections as well as in district and city council elections in late December.
- Petro Poroshenko has ordered the deployment of additional troops to southeastern Ukraine. The announcement was made due to fears of a renewed rebel insurgency in the country’s southeast, and despite the Ukrainian president’s own declaration of “faith” in the peace process. Authorities in the rebel bastion of Donetsk drew the ire of officials in Kiev due to the impromptu handing down of death sentences by recently “elected” officials in the rebel-labeled “Republic of Donetsk.”
- A new report by Radio Free Europe defines already existing instability in Tajikistan as a leading contributor to fears over growing ISIL influence within the country. Pay for a large majority of Tajik men both within Tajikistan and in Russia where many go to work is far below that offered by ISIL, and has proven to be attractive to disillusioned Tajik men. Leaflets promoting ISIL’s ideology have been distributed within Tajikistan as well as in neighboring Afghanistan and throughout Central Asia, leading local governments to expand security measures and offer amnesty as a means of enticing citizens fighting abroad to return to their home countries.
- A Chinese lunar probe recently returned to Earth following a recent visit to the Moon. The Chinese spacecraft touched down in Mongolia on November 1, though confirmation was only recently revealed.
- Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has removed restrictions that former President Karzai had in place on joint operations with US troops against the Taliban. Engagement with the coalition’s military leadership has been a top priority for Ghani’s new administration. ISAF Commander General John Campbell is reportedly visiting meetings of the Afghan National Security Council and with restrictions on force agreements and operations being lifted, optimism is high that the Taliban will be turned back.
- Krygyzstan’s President Almzbek Atambaev made an announcement yesterday that he vowed to implement “strict measures against extremist religious communities.” He spoke at a session of Kyrgyzstan’s Security Council on November 3, comparing religious extremism to a cancer. He warned religious clerics in the predominantly Muslim country that refusal to accept Kyrgyzstan has a secular state will face “severe” legal consequences.