World News Brief, Tuesday December 7

Nuclear talks between Iran and world powers begin; Iran has shown no sign of willingness to make concessions; US accuses China of enabling North Korea to launch attacks on South Korea; US and South Korea make progress on delayed trade pact; Karzai arrests election officials; Bernanke hints at more economic help

Top of the Agenda: Iran Begins Talks with World Powers


Talks began between Iran and six world powers in Geneva Monday to discuss international concerns (BBC) about Iran's nuclear ambitions. The talks – the first in more than a year – come as the Obama administration has grown more skeptical that Iran will seriously consider a deal to stop or suspend nuclear enrichment. Some Iranian officials have said (CSMonitor) their nuclear program will not even be on the agenda. On Sunday, Iran claimed to have used domestically mined uranium (WashPost) to make the material needed for enriched uranium. Western experts say the claim does not immediately impact Iran's ability to accelerate uranium enrichment to fuel reactors or atomic bombs, but the announcement suggests Iran had bypassed UN sanctions (NYT) that ban the country from importing raw uranium. Iran's rhetoric about talks has shown no signs of willingness to make concessions (Guardian) and turned hostile after the assassination of a nuclear scientist and the wounding of another in attacks in Tehran.


On the Atlantic Wire, Ivanka Barzashka says pressing for a deal "shaped around last year's fuel swap proposal, plus disposition of [Iran's] remaining 20 percent uranium, will call Iran's bluff and tell us whether the broader negotiations have any chance of moving forward."

In the Daily Telegraph, Rowena Mason says the United States' aims to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions are entwined with efforts to reduce Iran's oil-bartering power.

In the Weekly Standard, Reuel Marc Gerecht says the Obama administration should "realize the sanctions now on the books are not nearly enough to make [Iranian Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei blink."


This CFR Backgrounder examines Iran's nuclear program.


PACIFIC RIM: U.S. Ratchets Up Diplomatic Pressure on China


The United States increased diplomatic pressure on China (WashPost) by accusing its leaders of "enabling" North Korea to start a uranium-enrichment program and to launch attacks on South Korea.

On CFR's Asia Unbound blog, Evan Feigenbaum writes: "The U.S. continues to bet that Chinese leverage will set limits on escalation by Pyongyang and restrain further provocations. But China has shown scant appetite for coercing North Korea, and that seems unlikely to change in a fundamental way."

South Korea: The United States and South Korean negotiators struck a deal (Reuters) on a long-delayed trade pact, which was signed in 2007 but has not been ratified for three years because of U.S. auto and beef industry concerns.



- Karzai Arrests Election Officials
- Bernanke Says More Fed Easing Possible


This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on