Iran Nuclear Deal
French Open - Tennis - 2015
- 30th June was deadline for both sides to agree on nuclear deal, it is expected to be extended today. On one side is G5 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China) + 1 (Germany), while on the other side is IRAN. Temporary deal was arrived at in November, 2013 and now permanent solution is sought for.
- The goal is an agreement on a set of measures that can provide reasonable assurance that Iran’s nuclear program will be used only for peaceful purposes. Iran has already agreed to limit its enrichment to 3.67% for next 15 years, to limit number of centrifuges to current 19000 and to open its nuclear establishment for inspection by International Atomic Energy Agency. In return it will be liberated from sanctions imposed by USA, European Union and UNSC. Both sides are negotiating to get best deal for themselves and that’s where differences are emerging.
- Iran wants that sanctions should be removed as soon as agreement is signed, but G5 wants it to be in calibrated manner. Further, many interest groups in US and France are pushing for a strict deal which guarantees access to IAEA to all military establishments. This is unacceptable to Iran for obvious reasons and it has refused to allow any blanket access.
- There are also disagreements on consequences of violation of agreement by IRAN. US is pushing for even stricter sanctions in such scenario, while Iran is demanding a ‘Dispute Resolution Mechanism’. Iran also wants to maintain some of its R&D facilities, so that it can preserve current progress and success it has achieved in the field.
- Western negotiators are concerned that the total of about 19,000 centrifuges that Iran has installed at its enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordow is sufficient for producing, should it decide to do so, highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons purposes (typically enriched to 90 percent uranium-235) in a time frame that may be too short for the international community to detect the effort and respond to it effectively. (Current capacity is 20% enriched U-235)The negotiators currently appear to be discussing limits on Iran’s centrifuge program that would translate into a potential “breakout” time of about six to 12 months to make enough material for a first bomb rather than the estimated two months that Iran probably would require today. Additional time would be required to fabricate a nuclear explosive device that could be tested or a nuclear warhead that could be integrated with a delivery system such as a ballistic missile, turning Iran into a nuclear-armed state.
- In US things became complicated after it emerged that US Senate will have right to review the deal. To this Iran has expressed its concerns. Also, Republican Party and Israeli lobby are hell bent to influence deal to make it tougher for Iran to agree upon. While all interested parties feel that deal is inevitable and beneficial for stability of Middle East in particular and world in general, yet they have some aversion to a developed Iran. Saudi Arabia and Israel fear that this will open doors of development for Iran and a decade or so later a stronger Iran will defy the deal and will easily acquire nuclear weapons.
- Deal is compelling for both economic and security reason. With world economy anticipating downturn due to default by Greece and its possible exit from EU, it is expected that Iran’s integration with world economy will bring much relief. Iran huge oil reserves are expected to push prices further down, which in turn will help in faster growth in US, EU and India.
- Further, growing threat of Islamic Sunni terrorism and absence of any viable combat plan makes it nesseccary for both Iran and west to cooperate with each other. Shia Iran is also as hated by IS as is west. Lastly, it is perfect opportunity for US for damage control. Due to arbitrary interventions by west in last many decades its credibility has hit nadir and this is one of the reason that IS is attracting so many young people.
- Iran also has very young demography like India as 42% of its population is below 25 years. This group is quite aspirational and don’t want to remain isolated anymore. Sensing huge market opportunities, big businesses are already queuing up in Iran in anticipation of breakthrough. Due to sanctions, its economy is already wretched and inflation is still as high as 25%. So Iran, in order to preserve its stability desperately needs the deal. It is commendable that despite suffering such coercion Irani people have so far not fell prey to radicalism.
- This will be a breakthrough in International diplomacy and will give a major geopolitical shift. Saudi Arabia will become lesser important for West. Given the readiness on part of Iran, west should cooperate. Every country has right to maintain some sovereignty. Pushing Iran too much against wall my backfire, after all Iran has capacity to develop nuclear weapon and this attitude will provide it no incentive to give up its program. Iran also has credible warhead delivery systems I.e. Intercontinental Ballastic Missile.
What is Uranium enrichment and Centrifuges?
- Uranium is an element that is similar to iron. Like iron, you dig uranium ore out of the ground and then process it to extract the pure uranium from the ore. When you finish processing uranium ore, what you have is uranium oxide. Uranium oxide contains two types (or isotopes) of uranium: U-235 and U-238. U-235 is what you need if you want to make a bomb or fuel a nuclear power plant. But the uranium oxide from the mine is about 99 percent U-238. So you need to somehow separate the U-235 from the U-238 and increase the amount of U-235. The process of concentrating the U-235 is called enrichment, and centrifuges are a central part of the process.
- U-235 weighs slightly less than U-238. By exploiting this weight difference, you can separate the U-235 and the U-238. The first step is to react the uranium with hydrofluoric acid, an extremely powerful acid. After several steps, you create the gas uranium hexafluoride.
- Now that the uranium is in a gaseous form, it is easier to work with. You can put the gas into a centrifuge and spin it up. The centrifuge creates a force thousands of times more powerful than the force of gravity. Because the U-238 atoms are slightly heavier than the U-235 atoms, they tend to move out toward the walls of the centrifuge. The U-235 atoms tend to stay more toward the center of the centrifuge.
- Although it is only a slight difference in concentrations, when you extract the gas from the center of the centrifuge, it has slightly more U-235 than it did before. You place this slightly concentrated gas in another centrifuge and do the same thing. If you do this thousands of times, you can create a gas that is highly enriched in U-235. At a uranium enrichment plant, thousands of centrifuges are chained together in long cascades.
50 nations in, AIIB takes shape
- India and 49 other founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) recently signed articles that determine each country’s share and the lender’s initial capital.
- The remaining seven founding members can sign the agreement before December 2015.
- India had signed the Memorandum of Understanding for Establishment of AIIB in October 2014 along with 21 regional founding members.
- The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution proposed by China. The purpose of the multilateral development bank is to provide finance to infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region.
- AIIB is regarded by some as a rival for the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which the AIIB says are dominated by developed countries like the United States and Japan.
- The AIIB is expected to focus on infrastructure development in Asia, and unlike the existing International Monetary Fund and World Bank, is unlikely to restrict lending on political considerations.
- The authorised capital of AIIB will be $100 billion. AIIB’s headquarters is to be located in Beijing.
- India is the second largest shareholder in the Bank after China.
- In March 2015, United Kingdom became the first of G7 nations to join the bank.
- It is being called as a very positive development in the sense that it opens up more borrowing opportunities.
- China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders.
- Voting pattern: The voting shares are based on the size of each member country’s economy and not contribution to the bank’s authorised capital.
Azhagankulam was in the big league
Excavation at Azhagankulam village in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu, has thrown up fresh evidence that it was an important trading post between the Sangam Pandyas and the Romans from circa 50 BCE to circa 500 CE.
- Archaelogists have said that Arikkamedu in Puducherry and Pattanam (Muziris) in Kerala formed a troika of trade centres between Rome and the Tamil country during the Tamil Sangam age.
- So far, the excavation at Azhagankulam has yielded broken Roman Amphora jars, Mediterranean pottery, embossed Roman potsherds, copper coins, Chinese Celadon ware, rouletted ware, potsherds with Tamil Brahmi letters, a potsherd with a swastika symbol, Beads made of carnelian, quartz and glass.
- Excavations have also yielded three Roman coins. The legend on them showed that Roman emperors Valentine II (regnal years 383 CE to 395 CE) and Arcadius (regnal years 395 CE to 408 CE) issued them.
- The Mauryan context at Azhagankulam was also revealed recently, with the occurrence of the northern black polished ware and punch-marked coins.
Pandyan Dynasty – Basics:
- The Pandyan dynasty was an ancient Tamil dynasty, one of the three Tamil dynasties.
- The Pandya King, along with Chera King and Chola King, together were called as Three Crowned Kings of Tamilakam.
- The dynasty ruled parts of South India from around 600 BCE (Early Pandyan Kingdom) to first half of 17th century CE.
- The capital of the Early Pandyan kingdom was initially Korkai, around 600 BCE, and was later moved to Koodal (now Madurai) during the reign of Nedunjeliyan I.
- The kings of the Pandyan Dynasty are frequently mentioned in Sangam literature of the third century BCE and onwards, in works such as the Mathuraikkanci and other early Tamil literary works such as Cilapatikaram.
- The Pandyas ruled for the longest time in the Indian history and are believed to be the richest dynasty in the history of India.
An exact 3D model of heart hot off the printer
Researchers have produced the first 3D anatomic model of a patient’s heart using two common imaging techniques, aiming to enhance diagnosis and surgical planning.
- This is the first time the integration of computed tomography (CT) and 3D transesophageal echocardiography (3DTEE) has been used for printing a hybrid 3D model of a patient’s heart.
- Previous methods of 3D printing utilise only one imaging modality, which may not be as accurate as merging two or more datasets. Hybrid 3D printing integrates the best aspects of two or more imaging modalities, which can potentially enhance diagnosis, as well as interventional and surgical planning.
- The team used specialised software to register images from the two imaging modalities to integrate datasets selectively to produce an accurate anatomic model of the heart. The result creates more detailed and anatomically accurate 3D renderings and printed models, which may enable physicians to better diagnose and treat heart disease.
- This is being seen as a huge leap for individualised medicine in cardiology and congenital heart disease.
Facing up to global troubles
- Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan has a certain stature in the global financial world. He had predicted the 2008 global financial meltdown much in advance: in 2005, during his tenure at the International Monetary Fund he wrote a research paper in which he warned of financial sector-induced turmoil. Since then, Dr. Rajan’s words and actions in his line of work are watched and read with more than a cursory interest. Not surprisingly, his purported remark made at a London Business School programme last week on intimations of the Great Depression elicited wide reactions. The RBI had to intervene with a clarification to put the Governor’s articulation in perspective and context. “What Governor Rajan did say, in his remarks, was that the policies followed by major central banks around the world were in danger of slipping into the kind of beggar-thy-neighbour strategies that were followed in the 1930s,” it clarified. For quite some time now, Dr. Rajan has been voicing his concerns over the ‘competitive monetary policy easing’ by central banks across the globe. According to him, the current non-system in international monetary policy is a ‘substantial source of risk’ to sustainable growth as well as the financial sector. Unconventional policies have the potential to trigger huge risks when they are terminated. He reckons that such policies will push the world economy towards ‘musical crises’. In an inter-connected world, actions in one place trigger consequences elsewhere. In such a situation, domestic policy-planners have to factor in this ‘outside influence’ in their strategies.
- Indeed, Indian policy-planners find themselves in a predicament thanks to the continued monetary easing by some nations and the shrinkage in world trade. Given this ‘new normal’ kind of an environment, they will have to look at ways to protect the Indian economy from external vicissitudes. In this context, a fund-starved country like India will do well to focus on foreign direct investment rather than get unduly worried about foreign institutional investment, which will have its ebb and flow depending on the environment outside. A 75 basis-point reduction in the key repo rate made in three equal instalments this year by the RBI has not really helped spur investments. A combination of capacity overhang, slack demand and banks’ mounting non-performing assets has only compounded the problems. With everyone waiting for the other to act first, the onus is definitely on the political bosses to devise quick solutions to accelerate the economy. Perhaps, the prescription of the Depression-era economist John Maynard Keynes is relevant now. Indeed, a bit of a socialistic approach to spur demand is unavoidable.
Manipur ambush: NIA arrests NSCN regional chairman
- The National Investigation Agency on Monday made its first arrest in connection with the killing of 18 Army personnel at Chandel in Manipur earlier this month.
- Accused Abi Anal alias Ambison is a senior functionary of banned outfit National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) that claimed to have carried out the ambush on June 4.
- “The agency has arrested Ambison, who is the regional chairman of NSCN (K) in Chandel. Investigations have revealed that the accused was deeply involved in the conspiracy to attack the Army personnel,” said an NIA officer.
‘MSP hike can boost pulses production’
Former Member of the Planning Commission and economist Abhijit Sen said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could give a push to increasing pulses production by raising the minimum support price (MSP) for procurement.
“Only by hiking the MSP of pulses significantly will their cultivation become more attractive over the growing of other crops,” Dr. Sen said.
In his Mann Ki Baat address on Sunday, Mr. Modi had asked farmers to increase the production of pulses so that India no longer needed to import them.
Why India need to import one-fifth of its supply of pulses
- An analysis by The Hindu of food grains production data to understand why farmers prefer to grow cereals rather than pulses found that pulses are among the least productive of all crops — the yields are on average 760 kg per hectare, compared to 2,400 kg per hectare for cereals, and 1,100 kg per hectare for oilseeds.
- Low yields on the one hand and relatively more lucrative MSP for other food grains makes pulses an unattractive crop for farmers. For example, one hectare’s yield of jowar with a minimum support price of Rs. 15.90 per kg (as of June 17, 2015) gets the farmer Rs. 38,160. The same land used to grow urad dal or tur dal with an MSP of Rs. 44.25 per kg earns the farmer Rs. 33,630 — that’s Rs 4,500 less for every hectare the farmer devotes to pulses instead of cereals.
- The reason behind this low yield in pulses — which has barely changed in more than three decades — is that pulses are technology-proof crops, argued Dr. Sen. “Despite years of trying, no amount of R&D has increased the yield of pulses significantly, unlike cereals which saw a huge increase in productivity due to technological advances.”
- Another reason for the poor level of yields is that farmers are increasingly growing pulses on inferior land. “As farmers found that they were getting more out of growing cereals, pulses increasingly became marginal crops grown on marginal [less fertile] land. This has further hit yields,” Dr. Sen said.
- Mr. Modi’s exhortation to farmers to grow more pulses comes at a time when a fifth of the country’s supply of pulses is imported, as the 2014-15 data shows. This proportion is much higher in the case of specific pulses. For example, 42 per cent of India’s supply of peas was imported. This number was 32.4 per cent and 31 per cent for mosur dal and moong/urad dal, respectively.
French Open - Tennis - 2015