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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 18, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Putin Sees Chance to End Iran's Nuclear Row

Russian president Vladimir Putin told Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Monday that there is a "real chance" to end the international standoff over Iran's nuclear program (Reuters). Negotiators from Iran and six global powers are scheduled to meet in Geneva this week to discuss a deal, but some allies of the United States remain skeptical of the talks. French president Fran├žois Hollande said before meeting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel on Sunday that Paris will continue to oppose easing economic sanctions on Iran until Tehran gives up its pursuit of nuclear weapons (al-Jazeera).


"The trickiest issue probably will be Iran's demand for some recognition of what it claims is its 'right' to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, as some other signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) have done. The United States insists that there's no such right under the NPT. But negotiators have explored language that might provide Iran with a face-saving assurance that under a comprehensive deal to halt nuclear-weapons capability, it could have limited domestic enrichment for civilian use," writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post.

"Like the Soviet Union early on in the Cold War, even a nuclear-armed Iran would be vastly outmatched by the U.S. strategic arsenal. Unlike the Soviets, the Iranians can't ever hope to match the U.S. Thus, in any crisis, American negotiators will have the upper hand and should be able to compel the Iranians to back down quickly, even accepting significant reversals to avoid a war," Kenneth M. Pollack writes for Bloomberg.

"Iran came to Geneva for the same reason that the six world powers did: because its leaders believe that they can get something they require at an acceptable cost. These are the conditions that make diplomacy possible, and it has taken ten years to produce them. The United States can use them to secure an imperfect peace. Or it can start over by increasing the pressure on Iran and demanding unconditional surrender. If it chooses the latter, it will avoid a compromise, but it may find itself left with a choice between an unmonitored Iranian nuclear program and war," writes Laura Secor writes in the New Yorker.


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Corruption Magnifies Typhoon Suffering

Concerns about corruption in the Philippines are mounting as the country takes in more than $270 million of aid donated to the victims of a devastating November 8 typhoon (AP). The government said it will monitor the movement of funds to make sure it reaches the victims.

AUSTRALIA: Spy agencies in Australia have reportedly targeted the personal phone of Indonesia's president and inner circle, according to leaked documents from Edward Snowden (SMH).



U.S.-Funded Clinic Closing in Kabul

A clinic in Kabul that was launched by the Pentagon in 2007 and was once seen as a model for health care in Afghanistan is closing after U.S. funding dried up and the Afghan government failed to provide support (WaPo).

INDIA: India's central bank governor is planning an overhaul of the country's banking system to allow for an expanded role for foreign banks and more licenses for domestic ones (FT).

This CFR Backgrounder explains governance and corruption in India.



U.S. Mulls Training Libyan Security Forces

The United States military is considering a mission to train up to seven thousand soldiers in Libya and a smaller unit specialized in counterterrorism operations (NYT). The move fits in the Pentagon's strategy of building local alliances to expand counterterrorism capabilities.



Boko Haram Seize 'Slave Brides'

According to an investigative report by Reuters, Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram is abducting Christian women, converting them to Islam on pain of death, and forcing them into marriage with fighters, a new development in the increasing radicalization of the group.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and evolution of Boko Haram.

CAMEROON: Six gunmen from the Central African Republic were killed in a cross-border attack on Cameroon, as tensions continue since CAR's ousted president sought refuge in Cameroon in March (BBC).



Investors in Iceland's Banks Face Writedowns

Iceland's finance minister said creditors of the island's failed banks, many of whom are hedge funds, won't need to take a 75 percent writedown on the investment as reported, but may ultimately book losses that are higher or lower than that figure (Bloomberg).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the eurozone crisis.

FRANCE: A photographer has been critically wounded after being shot by an intruder at the Paris offices of a French daily (AFP). Last week a man stormed a TV news station headquarters in Paris and threatened an editor with a shotgun.



Boeing Books $100 Billion in Aircraft Orders

Chicago-based Boeing dominated its European rival Airbus at the Dubai Airshow this weekend, selling 342 planes worth $100 billion to carriers in the oil-rich Persian Gulf compared to 142 orders for Airbus worth roughly $40 billion (al-Jazeera).

CHILE: Left-wing presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet has won the first round of voting in Chile and will face off against her center-right rival Evelyn Matthei on December 15 (MercoPress).



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