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Daily Brief: U.S. Sends Mixed Signals on Iran Nuclear Deal

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September 21, 2017

Daily News Brief

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U.S. Sends Mixed Signals on Iran Nuclear Deal

U.S. President Donald J. Trump said he has already decided whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal ahead of an October 15 recertification deadline (WSJ), but did not indicate his position to European allies and Iranian leaders as they met Wednesday to discuss the accord.

The meeting between the parties that negotiated the 2015 agreement, which saw Iran agree to caps on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, was the highest level meeting between Iranian and U.S. officials (DW) since Trump took office. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the administration may seek to renegotiate the deal's "sunset clauses" (RFE/RL); Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ruled out such negotiation earlier in the day.


"For Rouhani, Europe's participation is key to continued support for the deal in Iran. Indeed, a key driver behind Tehran's return to the negotiating table in 2012 was to rebuild ties with European capitals," Ariane M. Tabatabai writes for Foreign Affairs.

"All parties to the deal except the United States are proponents of maintaining an agreement they say is working. U.S. critics of the accord are focused on Iran's continuing ballistic missile program as well as sunset provisions in the deal," Kambiz Foroohar and Ladane Nasseri write for Bloomberg.

"Despite the rhetoric, the Trump administration has already passed up opportunities this year to leave the agreement, recertifying multiple times that Iran was complying with the deal's terms," Seung Min Kim writes for Politico. 


South Korea Approves Humanitarian Aid to North

South Korea announced it will give $8 million in humanitarian aid, to be channeled through the United Nations, to support pregnant women, children, and health programs (Korea Times) in North Korea. The move puts Seoul at odds with Tokyo and Washington (Guardian), which regard such engagement as a concession to Pyongyang.

CFR experts discussed U.S. options on North Korea.

PHILIPPINES: Thousands protested against President Rodrigo Duterte (Phil Star) on the anniversary of dictator Ferdinand Marcos's martial law declaration in 1972, charging Duterte with authoritarian tendencies in his crackdown on drug crime. 


Nine Dead in Aid Truck Crash in Bangladesh

A Red Cross truck attempting to reach Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh (AP) veered off the road into a ditch on Thursday, killing at least nine aid workers. The accident came hours after a Red Cross boat trying to reach Myanmar's Rakhine State was attacked by a mob (BBC)

CFR's Alyssa Ayres discusses the exodus of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh

KAZAKHSTAN: Former Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov, convicted of corruption two years ago, was released from prison early (RFE/RL) on Thursday. His original sentence of ten years was shortened on several occasions after he admitted guilt and requested clemency.


Iraq Launches Anti-Islamic State Operation in Hawija

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that Iraqi forces began an operation (Al Jazeera) Thursday morning to liberate the town of Hawija in Kirkuk Province from the self-proclaimed Islamic State.  

EGYPT: U.S. President Trump said the United States will "certainly consider" giving Egypt hundreds of millions in military aid (Reuters) it was denied last month over human rights concerns. 


Hundreds of Thousands Rally Against Togo's Gnassingbe

A ten-year-old boy was killed and at least ten people injured Wednesday as hundreds of thousands protested (France 24) against a parliamentary vote that could allow more terms for President Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has ruled the country for half a century.

AFRICA: U.S. President Trump told a conference of African leaders on Wednesday that he will send Ambassador Nikki Haley (VOA) to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that conflict resolution there will "require an African-led peace process."


Britain's May, in UN Speech, Praises Paris Climate Accord

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that the Paris Agreement on climate is critical to promoting global security and prosperity, an apparent rebuke of U.S. President Trump's announcement (WSJ) he would withdraw the United States from the pact.

EU: The number of asylum seekers "in limbo" in Europe may be greater than the populations of Malta and Cyprus combined (EUobserver), at some 1.6 million, according to new research by Pew.


Puerto Rico Without Power After Hurricane Maria

All 3.5 million people on the island of Puerto Rico have lost power (BBC) as the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported "catastrophic" flooding on parts of the island due to Hurricane Maria.

MEXICO: The death toll from a 7.1-magnitude earthquake that struck southern Mexico on Tuesday (WaPo) rose to 230 as rescue crews continued to search for survivors. 


Report: Former Trump Aide Offered 'Private Briefings' to Russian Billionaire

Paul Manafort, formerly the campaign chairman for President Trump, offered Russian magnate Oleg Deripaska (WaPo) "private briefings" on the Trump campaign, according to emails cited in a new report. Manafort is now working with allies of the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government to promote an upcoming independence referendum (NYT) that the United States opposes. 

Maria Fantappie and Cale Salih discuss the politics of the Kurdish independence vote in Foreign Affairs

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