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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
February 10, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Iran Pledges New Cooperation With IAEA

Iran has promised to provide information about detonators believed to be part of a nuclear weapons program, one of seven confidence-building steps that Tehran agreed to with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (BBC). The nuclear watchdog said during a weekend meeting in Tehran that progress has been good. The agreement was seen as a positive signal for negotiations on a broad nuclear settlement between Iran and six world powers, scheduled to begin on February 18 in Vienna (Reuters). Meanwhile, the loosening of international sanctions on Iran hasn't spurred new transactions with foreign banks and insurance companies due to confusion about the sanctions and which deals are allowed (FT).


"In the following months, Israel will likely channel its strategic energy in two directions. First, it will continue to promote international pressure on Iran and work with other world powers to include in the final agreement the parts missing from the interim deal. An ideal comprehensive agreement will nix any military dimensions of Iran's nuclear project, curtail its plutonium enrichment, and remove a significant number of centrifuges and enriched uranium from Iran. All these will further lengthen the Iranian dash toward a bomb. Second, Israel will promote the military option to signal its resolve," writes Dmitry Adamsky in Foreign Affairs.

"What increases the sense of optimism is another positive development. The day after [Israeli defense minister Moshe] Ya'alon sat on the front row at [Javad] Zarif's session, in an interview with German TV, Iran's foreign minister recognized the Holocaust and called it a 'horrifying tragedy.' He then went on to say that if a peace agreement with the Palestinians was reached, Iran will make the sovereign decision regarding the possible recognition of Israel. Meaning it may or it may not decide to do so. This in itself is a notable sign of change," writes Meir Javedanfar for Al-Monitor.

"Now the administration is pressing for an agreement with Iran based on the conceit that the intelligence community will give policy makers ample warning before the mullahs sprint for a nuclear weapon. That is not true. Iran could surprise the world with a nuclear test at least as easily as India did in 1998, when the intelligence community gave the Clinton administration zero warning that New Delhi was about to set off a bomb—and a South Asian arms race," writes Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal.


Pacific Rim

U.S. Blames China for Rising Tensions in South China Sea

The Obama administration has taken a tougher stance on China's maritime claims in the South China Sea, blaming Beijing for tensions in the region and warning that the United States could move more forces to the region to protect its allies (FT).

This CFR InfoGuide explains the maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

NORTH KOREA: Pyongyang has rescinded for a second time an invitation for a senior U.S. envoy to visit the country to discuss the release of long-detained American missionary Kenneth Bae (AP).


South and Central Asia

U.S. Agency Pledges $300 Million in Aid for Afghanistan

The U.S. Agency for International Development has pledged almost $300 million in new aid programs over five years in Afghanistan, covering education, trade, and agricultural initiatives (Bloomberg).

BANGLADESH: Two owners of a garment factory outside Dhaka who are facing homicide charges for a 2012 fire that killed 112 workers surrendered to a court on Sunday (al-Jazeera).


Middle East

Hundreds Leave Besieged Syrian City as Geneva Talks Resume

Hundreds of sick and starving Syrians left a besieged rebel-controlled area in Homs under a United Nations humanitarian operation this weekend that was marred by deadly attacks on the convoy. Meanwhile, Syria's government and opposition representatives resume talks in Geneva (WSJ).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Syrian conflict and the global response to the crisis.



Violence May Force Muslims Out of the Central African Republic

A senior director at Human Rights Watch said that religious violence between Christians and Muslims could force the entire Muslim population out of the Central African Republic, where tens of thousands have already fled to neighboring Chad and Cameroon (BBC).

CFR's John Campbell highlights three things to know about the crisis in the Central African Republic and what is needed for peace.

DR CONGO: Bosco Ntaganda, founder of the M23 rebel group, which fought an insurgency in the Democratic Republic of Congo, will appear before the International Criminal Court on Monday (Guardian).



Russian Police Kill Four Islamists in the North Caucasus

Russian police killed four suspected Islamist militants in a shootout at a house in Dagestan in the North Caucasus, which is located roughly 380 miles away from Sochi (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the instability in Russia's North Caucasus region.

UKRAINE: An estimated seventy thousand pro-Western, antigovernment Ukrainian protestors rallied in Kiev on Sunday, increasing pressure on President Viktor Yanukovich (AFP).



Congress Faces Tight Timeline on Debt Ceiling Talks

Congress will adjourn Wednesday afternoon to take a weeklong holiday for President's Day, returning on February 26, adding urgency to debt ceiling talks before the Treasury loses its ability to juggle the country's finances on February 27 (WaPo).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the costs and consequences of the U.S. debt ceiling.

UNITED STATES: The Obama administration is wrestling with a decision on how to legally target an American citizen who is a member of al-Qaeda and is actively planning an attack on Americans (AP).



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