Posted: 7th April 2021
Please find today’s press round up below. Thank you to all for their continued help and support.
Iran Nuclear Deal Talks
The beginning of indirect talks in Vienna between the U.S. and Iran on re-starting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has generated significant press coverage. The Russian representative to international organisations in Vienna described Tuesday’s meeting as ‘an initial success’, according to the New York Times. The crucial element of the talks will be the attempt to synchronise Iranian nuclear compliance with U.S. sanctions relief. The U.S. government claims that Iran’s ‘breakout time’, that is the time between consciously starting enrichment procedures for a nuclear weapon and producing enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon is now a few months.
A report from Al Jazeera carries prominent quotes from U.S. State Department sources, all of whom evince the opinion that progress on restoring the JCPoA is likely to be slow and frustrating.
Iran Uranium Enrichment
According to the Russian TASS press agency, Iran has started trialling the advanced IR-9 centrifuges. The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran released a statement yesterday in which it said that the centrifuges had the capacity together to produce 50 Separative Working Units of enriched uranium. Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Iran has been using IR-1, IR-2m and IR-4 centrifuges to enrich uranium. Under the terms of the 2015 deal, it is only permitted IR-1 centrifuges.
Japanese-North Korean Relations
Japanese press reports that the government of the country will extend sanctions against North Korea for a further two years, including a total ban on trade. Moreover, any ship that docked at a North Korean port, as well as any North Korean-flagged ship, will be barred from entry. This follows on from the test firing of North Korean missiles in late March, for the first time in a year. Japan first implemented sanctions in North Korea in 2006.
UK Warhead Increase
Heather Williams argues on the War on the Rocks website that ‘the U.K. decision reverses decades of progress towards nuclear disarmament’.However, she also notes that the warhead increase is a symptom as well as a cause of a deteriorating arms control environment, with the UK joining China, India, Pakistan and North Korea in the group intend on increasing their nuclear weapon stockpiles. She also cites the 2019 House of Lords inquiry, which, in her words, ‘concluded that nuclear risks were rising because of inter-state competition, technological developments, and nuclear doctrines and declaratory policy.’
Proposed Ukrainian NATO Membership
A Russian government spokesperson has responded to the suggestion by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that Ukraine’s entry into NATO was the only way to resolve the crisis in the Donbass by saying such a move would ‘only exacerbate the situation further’, according to TASS. He added that this would be regarded as ‘deeply unacceptable’ by the unrecognised Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in the area.
Chinese Military Drill Near Taiwan
China has conducted carrier group exercises off the coast of Taiwan and will do so on a regular basis from now on, according to Reuters. The Taiwanese government has previously said that it believes Chinese military activity in its vicinity has increased in recent months. The U.S. Navy’s Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group entered the South China Sea a few days ago.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, has announced a £7.6 million project to study how to improve the design and performance of nuclear power plants, according to the Environment Journal. Academics at universities in Bristol, Manchester and London will work with EDF Energy’s nuclear power stations.
With best wishes,
Press and Communications Officer
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament