A deal setting out the framework of a historic accord between Iran and the P5+1 has been agreed upon in Switzerland. While the final agreement has not been signed and negotiations are expected to go on until the end of June with that end in mind, the initial reaction was optimistic. The presidents of Iran and the United Nations each gave speeches announcing the agreed upon-framework, as well as a number of its terms. Under the terms of the agreement, the United State and Europe will repeal sanctions levied specifically as a result of Iran’s nuclear program.
This includes sanctions leveled against the Iranian oil and gas and financial sectors in particular, and against its economy in general. Iran will, in exchange, take a number of steps, including the reduction of its centrifuge count by two thirds, and the disassembly of its Arak plutonium reactor. The framework has been described as historic and has been celebrated in the streets in Tehran. Critics of the framework predictably abound, though it remains to be seen if these critiques will be little more than words.
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- Azerbaijan’s largest, state-owned bank will raise its capital significantly, from 890 million manats to 200 million manats. The decision was taken following an annual shareholders meeting this past week. A 50.2% share is owned by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Finance.
- Ukraine will buy Russian gas for a lower price over the next three months, officials from Ukraine’s Naftogaz report. The interim agreement will come into effect once the low-demand season in Ukraine begins, and will allow Kiev to buy Russian natural gas for $248 per thousand cubic meters, compared to the in-season rate of $329 per thousand cubic meters.
- Foreign ministers from the Russia-sponsored Collective Security Treaty Organization have convened in Dushanbe. The meeting was called by the organization in order to address security concerns in the region. Specifically, the CSTO is concerned about the tenuous security situation in Afghanistan, and is also looking to address the topic of transnational crime, a growing phenomenon in Central Asia.
- Forces from the militaries of India and Kyrgyzstan participated in joint military exercises in Kyrgyzstan. The exercises form part of what some are beginning to describe as a renewed commitment in Delhi to Central Asian security. The Indian government’s Connect Central Asia policy has mostly floundered, and has quickly been surpassed by the Chinese government’s own New Silk Road Policy. Nevertheless, with the much-heralded TAPI energy project progressing, India’s influence in the region could soon grow.