The Evening CSIS July 15 2015
July 15, 2015
Welcome to The Evening CSIS—my daily guide to key insights CSIS brings to the events of the day plus HIGHLY RECOMMENDED content from around the world. To subscribe, please click here and if you want to view this in your browser, click here.
Will the deal go down?
In a tense news conference at the White House today, President Obama began the public process of selling the Iran nuclear deal to Congress , and unnerved US allies, the Wall Street Journal’s Colleen McCain Nelson and Carol Lee report.
The New York Times has created a useful infographic, “The Iran Deal in 200 words."
Dive Deeper: CSIS Anthony Cordesman published a new commentary today: " Beyond Partisan Infighting: The Role Congress Should Play in Reacting to the Nuclear Agreement with Iran. "
And, CSIS’s Sharon Squassoni published a helpful Critical Questions: " A Few Highlights of 'The Deal. '"
What's in a name?
Google says it has altered its map of a disputed reef in the South China Sea , removing its Chinese name in favor of what it says is the internationally recognized name. Meanwhile, the Philippines has asked the tribunal in The Hague to declare most of China's claims to the South China Sea invalid, but China has refused to participate, saying it doesn't have jurisdiction, CNN reports.
Dive Deeper: CSIS’s interactive micro-website, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) today published a new set of analysis "A rbitration on the South China Sea: Rulings from The Hague. "
In that Number
The number of gold medals won by South Korea in 2015, making it the winner of the 28th Summer Universiade (July 3-14) for the first time in its history. The Universiade is a 12-day-long international sport and cultural festival for student-athletes. This year, it was held in Gwangju, South Korea, with 174 countries participating.
Asked: W hat were the surprises in the Iran deal?
Answered: Sharon Squassoni, director and senior fellow, CSIS Proliferation Prevention Program:
The basic contours of the agreement were laid out in April, but there were some surprises. The JCPOA is specific about nuclear-weapons-related activities that Iran will not engage in. This is highly unusual to include in any nuclear safeguards-related agreement, and one hopes it is a comprehensive list so there are no loopholes. More importantly, this may be an important hook to allow the IAEA to gain access to military sites, since access must be “exclusively for resolving concerns regarding fulfilment of JCPOA commitments.”
Another big surprise was the absolute silence regarding access to scientists. This was a specific point of contention and the subject of Majlis legislation, but there don’t appear to be any restrictions in the agreement. It may be easier in practice for Iranian scientists to elude interviews than to have insisted on such a provision.
Another surprise was the seeming lack of restrictions on access to military sites. The five paragraphs in Annex I devoted to access seem relatively favorable until one starts considering how long the deliberative process will be for resolving access issues. In the end, however, the final decision rests with 5 votes from the Joint Commission, which should not be too high a bar for the United States, UK, France, Germany and the EU representative to meet.
In technical areas, the agreement states that Iran will not engage in spent fuel reprocessing for 15 years. While this is positive, earlier references to Iran not engaging in reprocessing seemed to extend indefinitely into the future, so this is a bit disappointing. R&D restrictions on enrichment seem both strict and flexible: while Iran is prohibited from research in anything but centrifuges for 10 years, the restrictions start to fade in year 8 after which it will be able to test IR-6s and -8s (it can only deploy IR-1s for the duration of the agreement). And, despite a reprocessing ban, negotiators agreed to let Iran do some radioactive processing in connection with production of medical radioisotopes, although the equipment must be acquired through a procurement mechanism outlined in the JCPOA. What’s more, the West’s involvement in redesigning the Arak heavy water reactor is greater than has been depicted in the past.
One to Watch
CBS News’s chief White House correspondent Major Garrett ( @MajorCBS) is one of the best in the business. He’s also my former colleague and one of the best people I know. Today, at the WH news conference with President Obama, he did his job. That’s why today and always, Major is one to watch.
New close-up images of a region near Pluto’s equator reveal a giant surprise—a range of youthful mountains rising as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface. Credits: NASA/JHU APL/SwRI
Everyone knows that CBS’s highly respected White House correspondent Major Garrett is, well, highly respected. I can tell you personally he is one of the best journalists and nicest people that I’ve ever known. Today, he asked President Obama a tough question about American hostages being left out of the nuclear negotiations and got in return what some have called “a public scolding” from the president. This is how Major reacted to the president’s reaction to his question. Major Garrett’s calling is to ask the people in charge the tough questions. I recommend you take a look at how Major explains his interchange with President Obama.
CSIS convened a high-profile wildlife trafficking summit with Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Senator Jeff Flake, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, and other conservationists who are cracking down on wildlife poaching in Africa.
Dive Deeper: Read today’s analysis by National Geographic and see the pictures that bring this issue to life.
CSIS will host a half-day conference focusing on the value of the Army Reserve, with a keynote by Representative Joseph Heck, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Military Personnel.
A subsequent panel discussion will focus on President Obama’s upcoming trip to Kenya and Ethiopia.
And our International Security Program will host Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of staff of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, on the state of the US-Japan alliance.
This Town Tomorrow
A House Foreign Affairs joint subcommittee hearing will look at US-China nuclear cooperation, including testimony from CSIS’s nuclear expert, Sharon Squassoni.
CSIS on Demand
To understand the Vatican’s financial system and the tools being used in the international financial system to confront terrorism, organized crime, and other criminal activity, be sure to watch this highly interesting discussion . Speakers are René Brülhart, president of Financial Information Authority (FIA) of the Holy See and Vatican City State, and Juan Zarate, board member, FIA, and former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.
Listen to NPR discuss another knock-on effect of the Iran deal - an arms build-up by Gulf States in anticipation of Iran having its arms embargo lifted. There’s a cameo from our own Tony Cordesman too.
I Like It Like That
A pro-nuclear propaganda video by an Iranian pop star was one of Iran’s top Google searches on Sunday and Monday as the country’s nuclear deal with the international community supposedly came close to resolution, Google Trends data has shown, according to the fascinating website Vocativ.com , which explores the deep web. To clarify, I like Vocativ, not the pro-nuclear rapper.
Since our last two days of smiles have been about dancing ducks (or seagulls, whatever), I thought I would take a request—like the seagulls, I do take requests!
One Evening CSIS reader who happens to write for a prominent news organization recently requested a clip of Pink Floyd following Grateful Dead week. And how could I deny such a request?
I leave you with a very intense piece of music and film. It will make you smile in awe at its primal intensity, unparalleled musicianship and stunning setting. It is also an historic precursor of the modern music video.
Filmed in October 1971, The Floyd was captured performing live surrounded by the ancient Roman amphitheater in Pompeii. The only people present were director Adrian Maben, his technical crew, and the members of the band: David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, and Richard Wright.
Why Pompeii? Why no audience? Simple answer—previous concert films such as “Woodstock” and “Gimme Shelter” focused in equal part on the audience as they did on the band. Pink Floyd decided to focus on their music and the surreal surroundings. The only cutaways from the band are of the ruins in the amphitheater and in surrounding Pompeii—bubbling mud, mosaics, and all.
The band insisted on performing live, which presented a problem—how would they generate enough electricity in an ancient arena to power their state-of-the-art, massive sound system (which you will also see in the film)? The solution was also simple, run a cable all the way to a local town hall and plug in.
The result: one of the most intense musical performances ever captured, “Echoes, Part 1.” This is a song that builds slowly in tempo up to warp overdrive. Stick with it, enjoy, marvel at the young Floyd and smile because I do take requests.
I always welcome and benefit from your feedback. Please drop me a line at email@example.com.