Democrats in the US Senate blocked a Republican effort to derail the nuclear deal yesterday. By doing so, the Democrats have essentially ensured that the recently signed nuclear accord will take effect and that President Obama will not have to veto efforts to stop it. The deal has naturally been a prominent issue since it came into being with a number of high profile domestic and international figures speaking out against it via public channels.
In Iran the deal has been endorsed by Ayatollah Ali Khamanei in the Iranian parliament. However, Iran’s Supreme Leader recently made headlines by insisting that no more diplomatic talks would be held with the US following the deal’s ratification. He further added that Israel would cease to exist in 25 years, enraging a number of politicians in the US and eliciting a fervent rebuttal from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
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- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko indicated in a statement given today in Kiev that he expects the Ukrainian economy to grow during 2016, referencing limited optimism surrounding the country’s economic situation. Poroshenko used the country’s investment climate as the basis for the statement even though the Ukrainian government has not issued uniformly positive assessments of its projected 2016 growth. One assessment showed inflation rising and less than 1% GDP growth. Poroshenko countered this assessment by insisting that a new tax code will reinvigorate the country’s investment climate.
- Trend News reports on renewed cooperation between the Caspian Sea littoral states. Specifically, it indicates that the countries’ respective foreign ministers have accelerated talks regarding the largely undefined legal status of the Caspian Sea. In all, delegations from Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russian and Turkmenistan are involved in the talks scheduled to be held later this year in Kazakhstan.
- Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in an interview with al Jazeera, claimed that al-Qaida was a “myth” and denied that the group ever operated in or plotted operations from within Afghanistan. The reputedly corrupt former Afghan president added that reports of the terror group’s activities in Afghanistan had been a Western idea and that it had no resonance in Afghanistan.
- A TASS news report reproduced a quote by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller claiming that Ukraine will use a $500 million European Union-provided loan to purchase Russian natural gas. Miller added that the company would grant Ukraine a discount for the 4th quarter of 2015 and the 1st quarter of 2016. New negotiations between the two countries are in the process of being scheduled.