Outcomes from Istanbul, Previewing the Next Round
On the radar: What happened; Istanbul quotes; Constructive, if modest; Salehi on the next round; North Korea’s ICBM; Weapons, scientists aging; Nuclear hearings; Mousavian on confidence-building; a Dose of skepticism; and the Necessity of detection and monitoring.
April 16, 2012 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Mary Kaszynski
What happened in Istanbul - The P5+1 and Iran agreed to a new round of talks on May 23 in Baghdad, discussed Iran’s nuclear program, but did not agree on measures to address it. Michael Adler answers other FAQs on the Istanbul talks.
--What does this mean? Iran and the West are talking again, likely a result of increased economic pressure on Iran.
--What’s next? The two sides will work the agenda for the next meeting. Outstanding issues include Iran’s stockpile of 20% enriched uranium and the West’s willingness to dial back sanctions. http://owl.li/ajgda
Constructive talks- "What we saw today in the talks was the interest of the other party in the talks and cooperation, which is considered positive," Iranian chief negotiator Saeed Jalili told reporters.
--EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton called the talks “constructive and useful,” adding that she hopes for "a sustained process of serious dialogue, where we can take urgent practical steps to build confidence and lead on to compliance by Iran with all its international obligations." From AP. http://owl.li/ajfZH
Low standard - “No new initiatives have been spelled out, but crucially for the six nations, Jalili talked about the nuclear issue and did not rule anything out,” writes The Guardian’s Julian Borger. “By that very low standard, the meeting is so far being judged as constructive enough to justify a second round.”
--“There will have to be something much more concrete on the table [in the next round] to keep this revived political process alive.” http://owl.li/ajggw
Positioning for next talks - "If the West wants to take confidence-building measures it should start in the field of sanctions because this action can speed up the process of negotiations reaching results," said Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
--"Enrichment is Iran's right but we can negotiate on how we obtain uranium with different enrichment levels...If they guarantee that they will provide us with the different levels of enriched fuel that we need, then that would be another issue." Reuters has the quotes. http://owl.li/ajhtX
Missile watchers - “North Korea’s ICBM Unveiled” by Joshua Pollack at Arms Control Wonk. http://owl.li/ajg9L
Ethics, strategy, and costs - “It's simply unacceptable to continue to have a national security strategy based on mass murder of others and national suicide for ourselves,” writes Dr. Peter Wilk, former executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
-- “The current U.S. nuclear stockpile is bloated beyond any reasonable purpose,” Wilk adds, noting that cutting the nuclear arsenal would result in significant savings. Buying 8 nuclear subs instead of 12 would save $116 billion over the program lifetime, and delaying the new bomber program for 10 years would save $18 billion in research and development costs alone. http://owl.li/ajg7B
Experience at the labs - NNSA is increasingly confident that it can maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile without returning to explosive testing. Yet, as the stockpile ages and weapons designers retire, some question if the U.S. will be able to maintain a sufficiently skilled workforce at the labs. Kate Brannen at Defense News has the story.
--Quoted: ”The best way to manage it is to ensure that as the inevitable reduction in the role and number of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security strategy continues, we should maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal, but also begin transitioning the work of the labs to more pressing 21st-century national security applications,” said Kingston Reif of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. http://owl.li/ajfXm
SASC Hearing - “NNSA Management of its national Security Laboratories” with lab directors Dr. Charles McMillan, Dr. Paul Hommert, and Dr. Penrose Albright. Dr. Charles Shank and Dr. C. Kumar Patel also testify. Wednesday, April 18 at 2:30pm. http://owl.li/ajfVx
HASC Hearing - “Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Budget Request for Atomic Energy Defense Activities and Nuclear Forces Programs.” Panel 1: Madelyn Creedon and Gen. Robert Kehler. Panel 2: Thomas D’Agostino, David Muizenga, and Peter Winokur. Tuesday, April 17 at 3:00pm http://owl.li/ajfTC
Mistrust - The mistrust between the U.S. and Iran is deep, mutual, and a complicating factor for nuclear talks. Instead of continuing a pressure-only track, the U.S. and Iran need an agenda of practical ways to build confidence, argues Hossein Mousavian in Foreign Policy.
--Included recommendation: “World powers must use negotiations on the nuclear crisis to resolve outstanding issues with the IAEA and allow Iran to exercise its right to enrich uranium while guaranteeing that this will not lead to nuclear weapons.” http://owl.li/ajfQt
Skepticism on the outcome of talks - “Given that Iran has been in multilateral talks about its nuclear program off and on for nearly a decade while steadily advancing on the nuclear front, it is appropriate to be skeptical about what more negotiations can achieve,” writes Barbara Slavin in Al Monitor about Iran’s “asymmetric diplomacy” in Istanbul.
--Slavin suggests that for talks to be successful, Iran will need to stop enriching to 20% and allow the IAEA to verify Iran has not restarted weapons work, while the West will need to recognize Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy under the NPT. http://owl.li/ajfM3
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