USA Current Affairs - 2020

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Iran to continue enriching Uranium despite US move

Iran announced it will continue with its low-level uranium enrichment in line with its nuclear deal with world powers. This move comes when on 3 May 2019, US forced Iran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and halt expanding its only nuclear power plant, thus intensifying campaign aimed at stopping Tehran’s ballistic missile programme and curbing its regional power.

Move taken by US against Iran

  • US efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began in 2018 when US President Trump unilaterally withdrew from nuclear deal which US and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.
  • US also scrapped its sanctions waiver under 2015 nuclear deal which until now allowed Iran to ship low enriched uranium produced at its Natanz facility, to Russia before it hit 300 kg limit and can even evade 300 kg limit on amount of low-enriched uranium it can store.
  • In recent move US announced discontinuing waivers and sanctions for countries (even India) buying oil from Iranian oil. It is an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero.
  • It also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorist Organization.

Arguments by Iran

  • As per (nuclear accord) Iran can produce heavy water (which is employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads), as this does not violate agreement so Iran will carry on with enrichment activity.
  • Its low-enriched uranium production helps Iran produce electricity.
  • Iran called for talks with its other partners in nuclear deal and UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to approve that Iran can enrich fuel to 20 percent and higher.
  • It is trying to counter US sanctions by continuing to export its oil at the same time boosting its non-oil exports.
  • In a move to increase its hard currency income and cut down currency expenditures, Iran will increase production and raise non-oil exports.

IAEA: International Atomic Energy Agency

  • It was established in 1957as an autonomous organization with headquarters Vienna. It’s objective is to promote peaceful use of nuclear energy, and prevent its use for any military purpose, including production of nuclear weapons.
  • Although it is independent of UN but it reports to both United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and to UN Security Council (UNSC).
  • It won Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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Afghans call for ceasefire as “Loya Jirga” Peace Summit wraps up

Afghanistan on 29 April 2019 convened rare “Loya Jirga”, a four day long grand assembly or massive meeting for delegates from across country to discuss war and efforts of United States to forge a peace deal with Taliban. At the end of huge peace summit in Kabul, Afghan officials called for immediate and permanent ceasefire.

Loya Jirga

  • It is a centuries-old tradition in Afghanistan which is usually convened at times of national crisis or to settle national issues.
  • It means “grand council” in Pashto. It is a 4 day long grand assembly held at Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • Participants include ethnic, religious and tribal leaders, politicians and representatives from all over the country.
  • In past it has been used to approve new constitution, declare war, choose a new king, or to make social or political reforms.
  • In Loya Jirga 2019, more than 3,000 participants gathered under tight security to discuss possibility of peace, cease-fire and women’s rights in keeping with tenets of Islam.
  • Several committee leaders favored an immediate pause in violence, which still continues across Afghanistan even after various peace summits taking place.

Recent Developments

The Taliban, who were earlier not at talks, are meeting separately with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha in May 1st week. It is seen as an effort to make a deal with US that could see withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

Issue:

  • The Taliban has frequently refused to talk to Afghan government, as it views government as a puppet regime. This means that even if US and Taliban agrees on deal to end war and set timetable for eventual withdrawal of troop, the insurgents may still forge some kind of an accord with Afghan politicians and tribal elders before an enduring ceasefire could start.
  • Most people of Afghan society worry that if US does make a deal with Taliban, then militant Islamists would try to seize power and undo advances in women’s rights, media freedoms, and legal protections.

Note: Taliban is a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war within the country.

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