Iran nuclear talks extended, allowing Iran to access frozen funds; protestors and police clash at Hong Kong protest site; Burma to adopt proportional voting system; Turkey sends arms to Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting ISIS; violence flares in Ferguson, Missouri; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Iran to Access $700 Million Monthly During Talks Extension

Iran will be allowed to access $700 million (BBC) in frozen assets a month, and temporary provisions to limit Iran's nuclear activity remain in place following agreement on a seven-month extension in talks over Iran's nuclear program (NYT). The United States and its allies had hoped to convince Iran by the November 24 deadline to curb its nuclear program in exchange for eased sanctions. Points of contention are said to be over the number of centrifuges Iran may operate, the levels of uranium enrichment Iran is allowed, and intensity of inspection on Iran's nuclear program. Both sides said they would aim to reach a "high-level" political agreement by March 1 and a final agreement by July 1. 

Analysis

"The deal they've been discussing in Vienna is complex, but technical details are not the main reason why they need more time to talk. At the heart of the talks there still is no agreement on the vital equation—the amount of uranium that Iran would be able to enrich, and the extent to which sanctions against it would be lifted," writes Jeremy Bowen for BBC News.

"In the end, [Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif] were constrained by hard-line politics at home. Mr. Zarif, while friendly, outgoing and Westernized, had pushed to the very limits of his brief; he often warned that the final decision would be in the hands of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.," write David E. Sanger, Michael R. Gordon, and Peter Baker in the New York Times.

"Iranian calculations are driven in part by the view that President Barack Obama is averse to conflict and that Washington, not Tehran, would be blamed for abrogating the joint agreement reached last November. Additional U.S. sanctions are less likely to produce greater concessions than they are to encourage Tehran to recommence its nuclear activities and curtail its already limited cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Association. So far, the global embargo on Iran’s economy has remained largely intact. But it’s unclear whether the European Union, Russia, and Asia would continue to forsake commercial and strategic ties with Iran to placate the U.S. in the event of a diplomatic breakdown," writes Karim Sadjadpour in the Wall Street Journal.

 

PACIFIC RIM

Protesters and Police Clash at Hong Kong Protest Site

Police, acting on an injunction to open blocked roads, clashed with protesters (SCMP) at the Mong Kok protest site in Hong Kong on Tuesday. More than thirty people, including a pro-democracy lawmaker, were arrested. Protest site clearing is likely to continue in the coming days. 

Testifying before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, CFR's Mark P. Lagon argues that democracy in Hong Kong is reaching a pivotal moment.

BURMA: Parliament's upper house passed a proposal to adopt a proportional voting system (Irrawaddy) to elect members of the upper house on Tuesday, a move opposition parties claim will unfairly benefit the Union Solidarity and Development majority party. Myanmar is poised to hold its first democratic elections in twenty-five years next year, and 75 of the upper house members will face elections. Meanwhile, the Myanmar army released eighty child soldiers (Irrawaddy), according to UNICEF. 

ELSEWHERE:

Turkey sends arms to Iraqi Kurdish forces fighting ISIS

Violence flares in Ferguson over grand jury decision

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

 

 

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