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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 8, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Iran, West Poised for Nuclear Deal

The top diplomats of the United States, UK, France, and Germany are making unscheduled trips to Geneva and are expected to reach a deal that resolves Iran's nuclear program (BBC). Details of the talks in Geneva, now in their second day, have been kept confidential, but Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that Washington is looking for a "complete freeze" of Iran's nuclear activity in return for significant relief from sanctions (AP). Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met with Kerry three times in the past forty-eight hours, said his country "utterly rejects" the potential agreement in Geneva and said Tehran is pleased with the deal because it "got everything and paid nothing" (Reuters).


"The U.S. is looking for Iran to agree to halt its production of more highly enriched (20 percent) uranium. It wants Iran to state that it will install no more advanced centrifuges at its enrichment sites. It also wants it to halt work on its heavy water reactor at Arak. To squeeze these concessions out of Iran, the US and European allies look prepared to make a more generous offer to peel back sanctions than they had made until now," James Blitz writes in the Financial Times.

"Netanyahu fears that the removal of even one brick from the wall of sanctions would cause the entire edifice to crumble. And he's right: There are many countries, and certainly many multinational conglomerates, that are eager to go back to business as usual in Iran; any softening, even temporarily, in the sanctions program, could spur at least some of them to rush in," Jeffrey Goldberg writes for Bloomberg.

"The U.S. and its allies clearly have significant gaps in their knowledge about nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea. But the implications of any such cooperation are profound. Given the closed nature of both rogue states, Washington is long overdue in increasing its relevant intelligence-collection efforts and re-examining whether Russia or China are also involved," John Bolton writes in the Wall Street Journal.


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China's Communist Party Rejects Political Reforms

China's Communist Party will focus on its economic agenda over the next decade at a meeting of the party's top leaders, but won't discuss any political reform that may threaten its rule (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder explains China's ruling party's origins and the challenges it faces.

CHINA: A forty-one-year-old man was arrested for setting off a series of bombs outside a provincial Communist Party building this week (SCMP). Police said he confessed to the crime.



India Accuses Goldman Sachs of Political Interference

India's government said Goldman Sachs was interfering in the country's domestic politics after the bank upgraded its assessment of the country based on the expectation that opposition leader Narendra Modi would win next year's general elections (FT).

INDIA: Suspected militants in India-administered Kashmir killed at least two police officers in an ambush while a Congress party leader was touring the region (BBC).



Dozens Killed in Iraq Bombing

Twin suicide blasts against an army base and a car bomb targeting Shiite Muslims killed at least thirty people on Thursday (AFP). More than 5,500 people were killed in Iraq this year.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and evolution of al-Qaeda in Iraq.



U.S. Mulls Expanding Kony Mission

Military planners at the Pentagon are discussing a possible expansion of the U.S. effort to capture the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony, including building an air base in Uganda (All Africa).

KENYA: An International Criminal Court prosecutor said she has a recording of associates of President Uhuru Kenyatta trying to bribe witnesses testifying against him in his ICC trial (Star).



S&P Cuts France's Credit Rating

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services cut France's credit rating by one notch to AA and shifted its outlook on the country from stable to negative. The ratings agency said the government's reforms won't raise medium-term growth (Deutsche Welle).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the role of credit rating agencies in the global financial system.

RUSSIA: The economy ministry slashed its economic forecast over the next two decades, signaling that Moscow's energy-driven growth model has been exhausted (WSJ).



U.S. Loses UNESCO Voting Rights

The United States lost its voting rights at UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) after Washington failed to pay its dues to the agency in protest over the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011 (AP).

BRAZIL: Germany and Brazil presented a resolution to the UN General Assembly calling for internationally guaranteed rights to privacy on the Internet (al-Jazeera).



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