Iran Talks: Progress Made, Both Sides Optimistic

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently paid visits to the country’s leading political and judiciary figures to gauge their reactions to perceived advances in the country’s nuclear talks with the West. The reaction, perhaps surprisingly, has been positive, albeit cautious, and one of the country’s leading hardliners, Ali Larijani, has declared himself “not pessimistic” about the deal. Rouhani himself has framed the progress of the deal as the West’s recognition of the irrefutable rights of Iran’s citizenry, though the deal may prove to be a significant victory for the West in general and for US President Obama in particular. Negotiations have taken a brief recess, though with the deadline of late March approaching, the two sides will likely resume talks later this month, with a comprehensive agreement possible by the end of June of this year.

One of the major points on which the sides seem to have made progress is that of centrifuge amounts. Reducing the current count of 10,000 had previously seemed intractable to Western negotiators set on cutting down the total number to less than 4,000. Current deal stipulations would see the count remain at 10,000, albeit with major reconfigurations that would make them significantly less effective. The deal still faces obstacles but both sides appear poised to reach a deal within the next several months.

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News Briefs:

  • The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, is poised to solicit more than €4 trillion in World War II reparations from Germany. Certain members of the Russian parliament began to ponder the move as a direct response to the impact European sanctions have had on the Russian economy. Mikhail Degyaterov, a Russian MP from the Liberal Democrat Party of Russia backed the movement in saying that Germany has paid “practically nothing to the USSR” following the “destruction” of WWII.
  • Eurasia Net reports that Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have seen their share of US economic and military aid increase following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan. Georgia will receive an additional $20 million dollar credit allowing it to purchase military supplies from the United States. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have not traditionally received considerable funds from the United States for developmental and military goals, though the amount Kyrgyzstan will receive will increase from $36mn to $46mn and in Tajikistan from $21mn to $28mn.
  • French retail giant Auchan will open its first supermarket in Tajikistan. Auchan’s supermarkets will constitute the first of their kind in Tajikistan, and will total five when the project is completed. The markets will sell products produced chiefly in Russia, and will be supplied and managed by French distribution company Shiever with a grant from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid a rare visit to Turkmenistan yesterday. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that the minister is in Ashgabat to discuss mutual development projects in Central Asia. The visit will likely also cover energy ties between the two sides. Russian energy giant Gazprom recently clarified the extent to which it will slash imports of natural gas originating in Central Asia, primarily in Turkmenistan, and had previously been criticized for failing to provide its rationale.

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