World News Brief, Wednesday January 5

Iran invites diplomats to tour nuclear facilities--US not part of group; US wants more talks with North Korea; China ups nuclear power capabilities; three quarters of Queensland's coal fields closed due to flooding; Washington downplays turmoil in Pakistan; Republicans plan congressional investigations; and more

Top of the Agenda: US Dismisses Iran Nuclear Overture


Tehran invited (BBC) foreign diplomats from China, Russia, and several European Union countries to tour some of their nuclear facilities, including installations at Natanz and Bushehr. However, the United States was excluded from the group of invitees. The US State Department, which has been leading the charge for economic sanctions against the regime, dismissed the gesture (WSJ) as a "ploy" designed to divide the international community. US and European diplomats have expressed fear that Iran may try to use diplomacy to forestall more economic sanctions while it continues to push forward with uranium enrichment. A spokesman for Tehran reiterated the strictly "peaceful" nature of the nuclear program (Reuters) and claimed the latest invitation was a signal of "goodwill" and a willingness to cooperate with the international community. In addition, Iran expressed its desire to host the official visit prior to the next round of talks in Istanbul this month, but European officials said the invitation was not likely to be honored (NYT), if at all, until after the negotiations are completed.


This Foreign Affairs article discusses the dangers of a nuclear Iran and the limits of containment policy.

Abbas Milani of details the rich history behind Iran's current nuclear ambitions and why the United States' denuclearization drive isn't working.


View an interactive timeline that explores the history of US-Iran relations.


PACIFIC RIM: US Calls for Talks with North Korea


On the first leg of his trip to South Korea, China, and Japan, the US envoy to North Korea (Yonhap) advocated for another round of "serious negotiations" in the near term. The visit comes ahead of a scheduled summit between US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao.

China: Chinese state television announced the nation's new ability to reprocess fuel from nuclear power plants. The technology will greatly expand the amount of power that can be produced from China's twelve nuclear plants (AP).

Australia: Flood waters forced the closing of three-quarters of Queensland coal-fields (BBC) and threaten to squeeze prices on the global steel industry. The Australian state exports half the coking coal required to make the metal.



- Israel Says Settlement Talks Halted by US
- Washington Downplays Pakistan Turmoil
- GOP Plans Congressional Investigations


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