World News Brief, Thursday February 4

Iran tests rocket but offers olive branch on uranium; Largest ever drone attack kills 10 in Pakistan; Chinese inequality levels off; France bans Moroccan man over wife's veil; and more

Top of the Agenda: Iran Changes Tone on Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared to back (WashPost) a dormant proposal to send Iran's enriched uranium abroad, only weeks after rejecting the International Atomic Energy Agency's brokered deal on the country's nuclear program. "If we allow them to take it, there is no problem," Ahmadinejad said on state television. "We sign a contract to give 3.5 percent enriched uranium and receive 20 percent enriched ones after four or five months." US officials reacted cautiously to the remarks. The United States, France, Britain, and Germany have been pushing for additional sanctions against Tehran at the UN Security Council. Diplomats say the sudden interest in diplomacy might be intended to persuade a reluctant China – which just handed the Security Council presidency to France – to block sanctions. Meanwhile, Tehran responded angrily to US moves to expand land- and sea-based missile defense systems in and around the Persian Gulf.

Iran test-fired (PRESSTV) a new satellite rocket and unveiled a series of what it said were home-grown advances in a space program. Western officials worry (WSJ) about the possible crossover with the country's weapons program, since many of the same technologies used in satellite development can apply to missile-delivery systems.


In Hurriyet Daily News, Ilhan Tanir says the United States' recent acceleration of arms sales with its Gulf allies is increasing tensions in an already tense Middle Eastern climate.

On Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt says scholarly literature suggests that airstrikes against Iran won't successfully tip its government "over the edge," and economic sanctions are not an effective coercive tool "unless one is very, very patient."

In Newsweek, CFR President Richard Haass says the current opportunity for outsiders to promote regime change within Iran should not be missed.


PACIFIC RIM: North Korea Currency Revaluation

Rumors suggest North Korea's top finance minister may have been fired (KoreaTimes) over the chaos and hardship triggered by last year's currency revaluation, which was intended to fight inflation.

China: A new OECD report says the increase in inequality in China has leveled off (WSJ) in recent years and could be less severe than previously thought.



US Drones Kill At Least Ten in Pakistan
France Denies Citizenship Over Veil


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