Iran: Ayatollah Rules out Better Relations with US

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamanei announced that relations between Iran and the US will not improve as a result of the nuclear accord. The remarks, given on Iranian state-controlled television, indicated that the accord comes out of a marriage of convenience and that new areas of collaboration between the two sides would not be explored. Khamanei added that Iran would “trample upon America” and ultimately bring about the country’s collapse.

Khamanei has a history of making similarly rigid statements to the Iranian media in order to curry favor with hardliners, and it is possible that this statement is indistinct from previous pronouncements. US Secretary of State John Kerry has nonetheless labeled the statement “disturbing” and indicated that he would take the statements at face value for the time being

Meanwhile, some of the provisions of the nuclear accord have come under fire in the United States. Nuclear experts have criticized a clause in the agreement stating that Iran would have up to 24 days to award IAEA inspectors access to nuclear sites. According to a statement released by several nuclear experts including a former IAEA official, 24 days would offer ample time for Iran to hide illegal nuclear activities.

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News Briefs:

  • Turkmenistan is exploring the possibility of converting its natural gas into plastic, a new piece in The Diplomat reports. Turkmen Deputy Prime Minister Baimurad Hodzhamuhammedov announced during a visit to Tokyo that the company would diversify its natural gas sector and pursue the conversion of natural gas into chemical products and petrol. Turkmenistan has a history of cooperation with Japan and the two sides have expressed interest in deepening their relationship, and Japan expects to invest in polyethylene and polypropylene plastics produced in Turkmenistan.
  • Kazakhstan will partner with Iran to build its next oil refinery. The fourth oil refinery in Mangistau, in western Kazakhstan, representatives from both countries announced. The fourth refinery has already attracted interest from Iranian and Kazakh companies and is expected to gain the support of the Iranian Ministry of Oil. Iran already exports millions of tons of crude oil through refineries in Kazakhstan and with the removal of sanctions expected, greater refining capacities will be necessary.
  • Al Jazeera America reports on the ethnic roots of China’s “Uighur crisis.” The piece traces the origins of the crisis to back the 18th century when Uighurs organized a number of uprisings against the Chinese Qing dynasty, and cites the policies of Mao Zedong as the impetus for current ethnic tensions. The Chinese government has generated a considerable amount of negative attention due to its policies in Xinjiang although Uighurs have also lost some international favor due to suicide bombings and reports that Uighurs are now traveling to Syria to join Islamic State.
  • Turkey’s foreign minister is currently in Kyrgyzstan paying visit to Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev and other Kyrgyz leadership. The two sides are expected to discuss strategic and economic cooperation at a High Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting in Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan and Turkey have enjoyed amicable relations since the former’s independence from the Soviet Union and Turkey was the first country to recognize it. Turkey and Kyrgyzstan have signed more than 100 joint cooperation agreements since Kyrgyz independence.
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