Diplomacy with Iran: Delays and Potential Deals

On the radar: Iran playing hard to get; a 20% deal; China warns N. Korea; Missile forensics; Less prompt, less global strike; and Taking a dip in a spent fuel pond.

January 25, 2013 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Alyssa Demus

Diplomacy outlook - “Despite Iranians’ suffering under the burden of ever-tightening Western sanctions, analysts believe Tehran has been evading a new round of nuclear talks with the P5+1...because it believes Western powers don’t plan to offer substantially more than the package rejected by Iran at the previous round of talks in Moscow last June,” reports Tony Karon for TIME on why Iran might be “playing hard to get” in its nuclear diplomacy. http://ti.me/VbYtSO

20% solution - The U.S. and Iran could break their current diplomatic impasse if they pursued a more limited deal - where Iran halts 20% enrichment in exchange for sanctions relief, argues Ray Takeyh in The New York Times.

--”A modest compromise may not fundamentally alter the technical complexion of Iran’s nuclear program, but it may change the political milieu that has thus far obstructed an accord. Only then can the great powers and Iran move toward a more fundamental resolution of their lingering dispute.” http://nyti.ms/SMqEuM

Formers for Hagel - “We, as former Secretaries of State, Defense, and National Security Advisors, are writing to express our strong endorsement of Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense,” reads an all-star letter to members of the Senate.

--Signatories: Sec. Madeleine Albright, Samuel Berger, Sec. Harold Brown, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sec. William Cohen, Sec. Robert Gates, James Jones, Sec. Melvin Laird, Robert McFarlane, Sec. William Perry, Sec. Colin Powell, Sec. George Shultz, and Brent Scowcroft. ABC News has the full text. http://nyr.kr/YscUZp

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Patron problems - A Chinese paper close to the ruling party offered a frank warning to North Korea, threatening to reduce its assistance to the North if it conducts a new nuclear test. AP has the story. http://owl.li/h81s1

Reality or Rhetoric? - North Korea is threatening “strong physical countermeasures” against its southern neighbor if Seoul participates in new UN sanctions against Pyongyang. Eric Talmadge of AP discusses whether these are serious threats, or yet another example of North Korea’s flare for inflammatory rhetoric. http://owl.li/h82it

Technical report - “South Korea’s Analysis of North Korea’s Rocket Debris” by David Albright at All Things Nuclear. http://bit.ly/Y3DQdT

--Original report from South Korea, English translation. (pdf) http://bit.ly/11WIpvj

--Original report in Korean. (pdf) http://bit.ly/11WIz5O

2nd term - “What will Obama do with his second term?” asks The New Yorker. On the arms control agenda, the magazine suggests that the President could “Ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Contain Iran’s nuclear program. Pressure China and Russia to more aggressively oppose Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.” http://nyr.kr/W4vWCx

Tweet - @frankmunger: ICYMI: If you still have nightmares of the Cold War nuclear threat, these photos won't help. http://t.co/1qGX39rw

Budget watch - “MOX on the Rocks: DOE Assessment of Plutonium Fuel Project at SRS Shows Chronic and Uncorrected Cost and Schedule Problems” by Tom Clements in The Aiken Leader. http://bit.ly/Ysmz1T

Strike option less “prompt”, “global” - Feasibility and cost concerns appear to be walking the US military back from proposals to build conventional weapons that could hit anywhere in the world within an hour - the so-called “prompt global strike.”

--The Pentagon is looking to relax requirements for the mission - exploring alternatives for short-, medium- and long-range weapons, including weapons that take a bit longer to arrive at their target. Elaine Grossman at Global Security Newswire has the story. http://bit.ly/YssST6


--”Revitalizing the National Security Labs: Beyond the Nuclear Deterrent.” Elizabeth Turpen. January 29, 9:00-10:30 a.m. @ the Elliott School of International Affairs. http://owl.li/h5MG0

--Confirmation hearing on the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel. January 31, 9:30 a.m. @ Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room SD-G50. http://owl.li/h5Njc


Cartoon - Armchair missile diplomacy. New cartoon from The New Yorker. http://nyr.kr/YscUZp

Question - “What if I took a swim in a typical spent nuclear fuel pool? Would I need to dive to actually experience a fatal amount of radiation? How long could I stay safely at the surface?”

--Longer than one might think, answers What if?. http://bit.ly/WkQx5h