In a speech last week, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamanei publicly ruled out the possibility of IAEA inspections at Iranian military sights, and stated that Iranian nuclear scientists would similarly be unavailable to IAEA personnel. Since then, Iran has softened its position to allow for “managed access” to its facilities. However, these statements reportedly contrast with the terms of the agreement reached last month by P5+1 and Iranian negotiators and present an obstacle to any final nuclear deal. French diplomats have already countered Khamanei’s announcement with a threat to veto any deal that does not include access to Iranian nuclear sights and personnel.
Iran had already stated that talks may go beyond June 30, although this statement has similarly been countered by US Department of State representatives who said that they will not “contemplate any extension” beyond the scheduled deadline of June 30. Whether or not the deal does get extended ma come down to specific technical provisions requested by the French delegation.
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- The agreement made between mining conglomerate Rio Tinto and the Mongolian government earlier this month has had the effect of attracting new investors to the Mongolian market. A statement made by the Mongolian prime minister indicates that the country has renewed its commitment to attracting foreign investment and will make an effort to attract other firms to its vast precious metals and mineral deposits.
- China’s state owned oil and gas firm the Chinese National Petroleum Company announced he first discovery of oil in China to exceed 100 million tons. The discovery was made in the Ordos Basin in the Western Chinese province of Shaanx. Early estimates of the crude place it as 733 million barrels.
- Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan reaffirmed their commitment to current Caspian Sea maritime borders despite the uncertain legal status of the body of water. The ratification of the maritime borders comes as all five Caspian littoral states continue to debate whether or not to designate the body of salt water as a lake or an ocean. The Kazakh and Turkmen parliaments also ratified the deal.
- EurasiaNet published an interesting piece on the extent of the bribery culture in Tajikistan. The new piece describes how children have come to understand the system and even take advantage of it by posing as officials in order to obtain bribes or favors. One child in particular posed as the son of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and obtained a $50,000 kickback. This episode has been corroborated by unidentified sources in Tajikistan who state that it’s exemplary of how business in Tajikistan is conducted.