Iranian lawmaker Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghadam, stated that Iran has the scientific capacity to produce a nuclear weapon, but will never do so. This is the first time that such a prominent Iranian figure has declared Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.
President Barack Obama stated in his remarks at the opening of the 2012 Nuclear Security Conference that, “There are still too many bad actors in search of these dangerous materials, and these dangerous materials are still vulnerable in too many places. It would not take much — just a handful or so of these materials — to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people.” The President also declared that the United States nuclear arsenal, left over at the end of the Cold War, is poorly suited for the threats the country faces today.
Saeed Jalili, the Iranian nuclear negotiator said that he will offer “new initiatives” at the upcoming talks between the P5+1 and Iran. “Iran’s representatives will participate in the negotiations with new initiatives and we hope that the P5-plus-1 countries will also enter talks with constructive approaches,” Mr. Jalili said. President Obama has called the negotiations, Iran’s “last chance” to resolve the dispute diplomatically.
There is broad support over new oil and banking sanctions on Iran if the P5+1-Iran summit does not achieve progress. Senate and House aids have been quoted to say that most of the language for new sanctions legislation is negotiable and there is bipartisan support for the bills. The new set of bills want to close various loopholes in existing legislation, focusing on banking transactions for Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. There are also other amendments that would ban insurers from covering Iranian oil shipments or ban ships that have recently docked in Iran from visiting U.S. ports.
The Obama Administration is weighing sharp cuts to the United States’ nuclear arsenal, considering cuts from a maximum of 1,100 to a minimum of 300.
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief declared that the P5+1-Iran talks were “constructive and useful.” Ms. Ashton believes that later meetings will lead to concrete steps toward a comprehensive negotiated solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.”
The seven nations of the P5+1-Iran talks agreed to hold a new round of negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue on May 23rd in Baghdad. While regarded as a success by diplomats, the low bar set by the participatory nation’s means the outcome represented no real breakthrough and the pressure to achieve real progress at the next round of talks will increase.
Secretary of State Clinton stated that the U.S. will maintain sanctions on Iran until Tehran takes the initiative on the nuclear issue. Secretary Clinton said, “I believe in action for action but I think in this case the burden of action falls on the Iranians to demonstrate their seriousness and we are going to keep the sanctions in place and the pressure on Iran as they consider.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the P5+1-Iran talks saying, “my initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie,” and that “[Iran] has got five weeks to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition.” Prime Minister Netanyahu also stated that Iran must stop 20% enrichment and dismantle its Qom facility, echoing the Obama Administration’s demands.
Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller stated in a recent trip to Moscow State Institute of International Relations that, “the United States is committed to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” But to do so Under Secretary Gottemoeller said that in an age of open diplomacy at the speeds of emails and video-chats, “we are going to have to think bigger and bolder.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney urged China and India to “exercise restraint regarding nuclear and missile capabilities” in the wake of India’s test of a new nuclear-capable missile with the range to reach Beijing. This test is part of India’s military modernization program that has made that country into the world’s top arms importer.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft writes that nuclear weapons reductions must be part of the strategic analysis for national security policy. The pair discusses in their piece that future negotiations should be based not on a preconceived determination but after a thoughtful strategic analysis that determine the right number and mix of weapons. To determine the right number and mix, Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Scowcroft include eight facts, including the introduction of other nations into the START Treaty process, the importance of verification, and maintaining a robust command and control system.
In an op-ed in Politico Senators Kyl, Corker, and Ayotte, described why the United States needs to restore our commitment to nuclear weapons and modernize our arsenal. “The plan to modernize our aging nuclear weapons and facilities, proposed by the president in consultation with Congress, remains valid,” and that it is important that Congress “restore the funding and schedule for the nuclear modernization plan.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that he believes that he was optimistic about the upcoming round of nuclear talks slated to begin on May 23rd in Baghdad. He believes that there will be progress towards the resolution of the nuclear issue.
In his speech to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Obama said that, “ the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon” and that he would “always be there for Israel.”