Iran agrees to nuclear talks and an
has agreed to a U.N.
inspector mission and to hold talks in Turkey with the permanent five
members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany on its nuclear program. The
decisions come after the assassination of an Iranian
nuclear scientist and a U.N. announcement that Iran has reached 20 percent
enrichment, suggesting progress toward nuclear weapon development (though President
Mahmoud Ahmadenijad maintains Iran's nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes).
The U.N. delegation visit is scheduled for January 28 through the first week of
February and will be headed by Herman Nackaerts, International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) chief inspector. Additionally, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali
Larijani said Iran is ready for "serious" talks
which he said could "yield results" if they are "not a game." Meanwhile, the
United States is continuing to apply pressure on Asian countries to cut Iranian
oil imports. On Thursday, the U.S.
applied sanctions on the state-run Chinese Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, which is the
largest supplier of refined petroleum products to Iran, and on Singapore's
energy trader Kuo Oil Pte Ltd and FAL Oil Company Ltd. Russia,
who has supported four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions, warned the
United States on increasing sanctions and escalating tensions saying it would
undermine international efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to the Iranian
- One Shiite protester was
killed and three injured in clashes with security forces in oil-rich
eastern Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, U.K. Prime Minister David
Cameron is currently on visit to meet with Saudi leaders.
- Syrian activists have called
for mass pro-Free
Syria Army rallies across the country as the Arab League head said he
feared current events could lead to civil
conflicts surged in multiple regions in Yemen just as
anti-government demonstrators continue to protest against an immunity deal
for outgoing President Saleh.
and Palestinian officials will meet two more times in Jordan before the January
26 deadline but each side continues to blame the other for neglecting to
present new proposals.
Mourners carry the coffin of Iranian nuclear scientist
Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, during his funeral in Tehran on January 13, 2012,
one day after he was killed when two men on a motorbike slapped a
magnetic bomb on his car while it was stuck in Tehran traffic. Iran said
its top scientist was killed by Israel and the United States as part of
a covert campaign against its nuclear programme (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
'Steps to defuse a crisis' (David Ignatius, The Washington Post)
"The time for communication may be running out. Economic sanctions are
creating a worsening crisis for Iran, one that is a potential threat to
the regime's survival. And more potent sanctions are on the way.
Meanwhile, Israel, the U.S. and other allied nations are conducting
covert actions against the Iranian nuclear program. Iran called the assassination this week of one of its nuclear
scientists another in a series of "malicious terrorist attacks." At some
point, the Iranians may conclude that the broad pressure campaign,
overt and covert, means that a state of undeclared war exists -- and
respond in kind."
'Lebanon: calm before the storm' (Fillippo Dionigi, Open Democracy)
"Hezbollah's situation is indeed a difficult
one. Regional developments and the indictment of four of its members by the STL
(another momentous event for Lebanon this year) represent major challenges. The Syrian crisis has put the Shiite movement
in an uncomfortable position. Whereas it supported the uprising in Egypt,
Tunis, Libya and Bahrain; Hezbollah has taken a defensive stance towards its
Syrian ally. The movement is torn apart between its political identity
promoting resistance and liberation and its strategic constraints as Syrian
ally and member of the "Axis of Resistance". How Hezbollah will come out of the 2011 events is difficult to
support to the Syrian regime has exacted a significant cost in political
capital and it is hard to imagine how it can recover popularity, in a
region galvanized by the fall of three dictators with more, seemingly,
'Tunisia: ideology vs. practicality' (The Economist)
"One determinedly articulate block of public opinion, echoed by some of
the press, is reluctant to accept Nahda's electoral victory. It is also
spooked by the increasing visibility of radical Salafist Islamists.
Lecturers were dismayed when the humanities faculty of Tunis's Manouba
University was closed down by Salafist protesters wanting women students
to be allowed to wear the niqab, the full
face-veil, in class. Riot police were dispatched onto the campus to end
the sit-in without violence, signalling that the government will not be
held to ransom by such groups."
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