The Middle East Channel

Negotiators Agree to Seven-Month Extension of Iran Nuclear Talks

Failing to reach an agreement by the November 24 deadline, six world powers and Iran have agreed to extend talks over Tehran’s nuclear development program for seven months. The parties aim to reach a political agreement by March 1, 2015 and to finalize the technical details of the agreement by July 1. U.S. Secretary of ...

JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images
JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Failing to reach an agreement by the November 24 deadline, six world powers and Iran have agreed to extend talks over Tehran's nuclear development program for seven months. The parties aim to reach a political agreement by March 1, 2015 and to finalize the technical details of the agreement by July 1. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said progress had been made on key issues during recent negotiations, including on limiting Iran's capacity to enrich uranium, according to Fabius. Kerry noted "real and substantial progress" but acknowledged that significant differences remain and said the talks are "going to stay tough." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the parties don't need seven months to reach a deal and President Hassan Rouhani also expressed optimism saying that many gaps were narrowed during the negotiations in Vienna. However, Rouhani maintained, "the centrifuges are spinning and will never stop." Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report Monday showing that Iran has taken the required steps to curb its nuclear program in compliance with the interim nuclear accord reached in November 2013.

Syria-Iraq

As the U.S. administration grapples with the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned Monday under pressure. The U.S. military reported on Monday that coalition forces had conducted nine airstrikes in Syria and 15 in Iraq since Friday targeting Islamic State militants. Meanwhile, the opposition Syrian National Coalition urged U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura to establish "refuge zones" along Syria's borders while France is calling for "safe zones" as de Mistura works to forward his proposal for a cease-fire in Aleppo.

Failing to reach an agreement by the November 24 deadline, six world powers and Iran have agreed to extend talks over Tehran’s nuclear development program for seven months. The parties aim to reach a political agreement by March 1, 2015 and to finalize the technical details of the agreement by July 1. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said progress had been made on key issues during recent negotiations, including on limiting Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium, according to Fabius. Kerry noted "real and substantial progress" but acknowledged that significant differences remain and said the talks are "going to stay tough." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the parties don’t need seven months to reach a deal and President Hassan Rouhani also expressed optimism saying that many gaps were narrowed during the negotiations in Vienna. However, Rouhani maintained, "the centrifuges are spinning and will never stop." Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report Monday showing that Iran has taken the required steps to curb its nuclear program in compliance with the interim nuclear accord reached in November 2013.

Syria-Iraq

As the U.S. administration grapples with the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel resigned Monday under pressure. The U.S. military reported on Monday that coalition forces had conducted nine airstrikes in Syria and 15 in Iraq since Friday targeting Islamic State militants. Meanwhile, the opposition Syrian National Coalition urged U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura to establish "refuge zones" along Syria’s borders while France is calling for "safe zones" as de Mistura works to forward his proposal for a cease-fire in Aleppo.

Headlines

  • Pro-Hifter forces, aligned with the Tobruk-based government, claimed responsibility for airstrikes over the past two days that hit Tripoli’s Mitiga airport, the last functioning airport in Libya’s capital.
  • Nidaa Tounes leader Beji Caid Essebsi has won the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election, but failing to take a majority, will face incumbent President Moncef Marzouki in a December run-off.
  • Saudi Arabia has arrested four main suspects in the Nov. 3 attack on Shiite Muslims in al-Ahsa, which the interior ministry said it believes was ordered by Islamic State militants abroad.
  • Yemeni forces freed seven Yemeni hostages and one foreigner in an army raid that also killed seven al Qaeda militants.
  • Severe floods in southern Morocco have killed 32 people and left six others missing.

Arguments and Analysis

With Talks Extended, Risks in Additional U.S. Sanctions Against Iran‘ (Karim Sadjadpour, The Wall Street Journal)

"As I testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, the widespread assessment that economic pressure forced Tehran to negotiate seriously is likely to tempt Congress to enact additional sanctions in an effort to coerce an Iranian compromise. But premature unilateral U.S. sanctions could threaten the unity among Washington’s negotiating partners (the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany). They also risk tainting U.S. standing among the Iranian people and precipitating an escalation that could result in military conflict.

Iranian calculations are driven in part by the view that President Barack Obama is averse to conflict and that Washington, not Tehran, would be blamed for abrogating the joint agreement reached last November. Additional U.S. sanctions are less likely to produce greater concessions than they are to encourage Tehran to recommence its nuclear activities and curtail its already limited cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Association."

Tunisia stands at a political crossroads in its revolutionary transition‘ (H.A. Hellyer, Al Arabiya)

"Tunisia does not stand simply at the crossroads of continuing along a democratic, revolutionary path, where the goals of the revolution may be pursued, and the institutions of democratic governance reinforced. Rather, there is another particularity that Tunisia may yet show the way forward in. 

In none of the Arab revolutionary uprisings was there production of new political ideological thought which could genuinely be said to emanate from a deep, fresh experience. On the contrary – generally speaking, all political forces offered were rather stale repetitions of spent political thought. That included Islamism, but it also included Nasserism and other ideological formations."

Mary Casey-Baker

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