Thursday News and Notes

US Engaged In Naïve Negotiations With Iran, Analyst Says
Andrew Natsios takes a critical view of the deal with Iran believing the administration’s “hopeful” foreign policy resulted in it naïve negotiations that could have unintended consequences. “The Obama White House appears to believe that ending Iran’s international isolation will marginalize more extreme factions within  the ruling elite in Tehran, and strengthen supposed “moderates.” The very opposite is the more likely outcome of the deal, as no improvement  in the Iranian economy is likely, as sanctions relief will take much  longer for the U.S. to implement than the Iranians realize, if the sanctions are relaxed at all. Neither political party in the U.S.  Congress is likely to cooperate with the White House efforts to loosen  the Iranian sanctions regime which are notoriously difficult to dismantle even when there is widespread agreement in Washington to do so. In any case, American experience in making deals with other brutal, hardline, so-called rogue regimes is not a happy one,” he writes in US News and World Report. The Washington Post’s David Ignatius lays out the next steps in Iran.

International Atomic Energy Administration Says North Korea May Have Restarted Its Program IAEA chief Yukiya Amano believes his agency has evidence that activity has been detected at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, but could not confirm since the regime will not provide access. “Activities have been observed at the site that are consistent with an effort to restart the 5MW(e) reactor. However, as the Agency has no access to the site, it is not possible for us to conclusively determine whether the reactor has been re-started,” he told the IAEA’s panel.

China Has Limited Influence
Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, penned an op-ed in The New York Times in which he contends that as powerful a force China is in Asia, particularly in North Korea, Cambodia and Laos, other nations are diversifying their alliances.

Afghanistan’s Karzai May Have Overplayed His Hand
“Yet, all these countries have reasons to limit their dependence on China, the United States or any other single power. Even in China’s backyard, emerging powers like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam will continue to forge new economic ties with Beijing, but they still hope an expanded U.S. presence in Asia will help them hedge against too great a reliance on China’s good will,” Bremmer asserts.

Facing domestic divisions, the pressure is on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the agreement with the United States to keep peacekeeping troops in country.

“Political leaders and analysts in Kabul have various theories about why Karzai is holding out, including that he is facing pressure from Iran or wants to win U.S. support for his favored candidate in the presidential election next spring. Many analysts and political leaders believe that Karzai is overestimating the will of the Obama administration to continue the negotiations,” reports The Washington Post.

Natanyahu: Does He Want To Negotiate With Anyone?
Michael Hirsh of The National Journal argues that during his political career Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lived by a dictum of non-negotiation.

He says that while he is not wrong to possess concerns about negotiations with Iran and Palestine, there may be a greater danger in continuing a path of confrontation than choosing to sit down to negotiate.

“What is most disturbing, even to some Israeli defense and intelligence experts, is Netanyahu’s blunt unwillingness to compromise on either issue. Amos Yadlin, the former head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence, told Israeli TV that the hard-line criticism of the interim nuclear deal with Iran misses a subtle but crucial point: The terms are good enough for a temporary freeze that will allow the negotiations to continue—which is what this is—even though they would not suffice for a permanent deal, which would require dismantlement,” Hirsh reports.


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