Breaking Ice on the Iran Nuclear Deal

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• In Vienna, the Joint Commission met Friday and "took stock" of discussions held since its last meeting on a possible US return to the Iran nuclear deal, including this week's "proximity" talks between the US, Iran and the other signatories to the 2015 agreement (related). In a tweet, the European External Action Service's Political Director Enrique Mora, who is the commission's coordinator, described the meeting as "constructive" and said there was "agreement to intensify joint diplomatic efforts and reconvene next week." An official statement said expert groups had been set up to continue the work of the two groups formed at the outset of this week's meetings to weigh options for sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures. Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who embarked on a multicountry tour (Apr. 5-8) of Central Asia while the Vienna talks took place, tweeted that all sanctions put in place by former US President Donald Trump "must be removed -- w/o [without] distinction between arbitrary designations." Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted that after "a long time" talking about the need to restore the nuclear deal "only now we have started to elaborate practical steps in this direction." • EDF Energy is contemplating early retirement of its twin advanced-gas reactors (AGRs) at Dungeness B, in Kent, southeast England, after spending over £100 million ($137.5 million) and two years trying to fix the reactors since they last produced electricity in September 2018 (NIW Sep.4'20). While the AGRs are currently planned to operate until 2028, given their "unique technical challenges" the subsidiary of France's EDF is now considering "a range of scenarios," EDF Energy announced Apr. 8. "These include moving directly into the defuelling phase later this year -- if return to service cannot be achieved - bringing forward the end of generation date, or continuing until the scheduled date of 2028." If Hunterston B is retired, it would have company: over the past year EDF has also announced early retirements for twin AGRs at Hinkley Point B in Somerset and Hunterston B in North Ayrshire, Scotland (NIW Nov.20'20). • US authorities arrested a 33-year-old man from Michigan after he drove himself and his unsuspecting passenger onto Energy Harbor's Perry nuclear power plant site in northeastern Ohio at around 6 p.m. on Apr. 7 and refused to leave, telling plant security he had a bomb in the trailer attached to his pickup truck. Local and federal authorities, including from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lake County Bomb Squad, responded to the event, but found no evidence of a bomb, according to local media reports. The man, Michael Fogelsong, faces charges of aggravated trespass and triggering false alarms, and is being held on $100,000 bond. This is hardly the first such unauthorized entry to a nuclear site. In 1993, a man previously treated for mental health issues drove his mother’s station wagon into the Three Mile Island nuclear plant site near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and was later found hiding in the turbine building. In South Africa in 2007, four armed men gained access to the emergency control center at the Pelindaba nuclear reactor and research facility after getting past two fences, shooting one employee and assaulting another (NIW Nov.19'07).

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