World News Brief, Wednesday June 30

US arrests Russian spies, rattling relationships with the Kremlin (+ analysis); Iran sets conditions on further nuclear talks and reserves right to defend ships; Protests in Spain and Greece as loans run out; Google backs down on China site; and more

Top of the Agenda: US Cracks Russian Spy Ring

US federal prosecutors alleged eleven people were Russian spies (NYT) living in the United States, sent to gather information on nuclear weapons, US policy toward Iran, and CIA leadership, among other issues. Ten people were arrested in Yonkers, Boston, and northern Virginia on charges that did not include espionage, and another was arrested at the Cyprus airport. The defendants were charged with conspiracy for failing to register as agents of a foreign government, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Nine people were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of twenty years. They are not accused of obtaining classified materials, and it was not clear what secrets the suspected spy ring actually collected.

The operation was aimed at placing spies in nongovernmental jobs (WashPost), such as at think tanks, where they could glean information from policymakers and Washington-connected insiders without attracting attention.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the US arrests (WSJ) are unfounded and pursued "unseemly" goals. It voiced regret that the arrests came soon after President Barack Obama moved to "reset" US relations with Russia.


In the Moscow Times, Stephen Rademaker says "Russia emphatically has not embraced US President Barack Obama's vision of a world free of nuclear weapons."

In Newsweek, Owen Matthews says the success of Obama's June 24 meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came "almost exclusively at Obama's expense."

In a recent interview, CFR's Stephen Sestanovich reviewed the prospects for expanding US-Russia economic ties as well as for advancing arms control talks.


PACIFIC RIM: Google Shifts Approach on China

Google said it will stop automatically rerouting users (AP) of its China search site to its Hong Kong site after China threatened to revoke the company's Internet license.

North Korea: China rejected President Obama's suggestion that it was avoiding the risks posed by North Korea, and said tensions on the Korean peninsula affected China (Reuters) more than the United States.

The Obama administration should mount a more vigorous effort to address North Korea's nuclear weapons program, says Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard, co-chairman of a new CFR Independent Task Force report.



- Iran Sets Nuclear Talk Conditions
- Protests Rock Greece and Spain


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