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European Signatories Call on Iran to Reverse Actions Against Nuclear Deal

France, Germany, Britain and the European Union say they are “extremely concerned” about Iran’s renewed uranium enrichment activities and what they call “regrettable acceleration of Iran’s disengagement” from commitments it made under the 2015 agreement regarding the country’s nuclear program.In a joint statement released Monday, the foreign ministers urged Iran to reverse all of the measures it has taken that go against those imposed in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which limited Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.Iran has restarted enrichment at its Fordow facility, exceeded limits on enrichment levels and the amount of enriched material it is allowed to stockpile, while also announcing work on developing more advanced centrifuges.  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the steps are reversible if the other signatories to the agreement help Iran work around U.S. sanctions.In their statement, France, Germany Britain and the EU said their side has “fully upheld” their commitments under the agreement, including lifting the sanctions they had imposed over fears Iran was working to develop nuclear weapons.  Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.”It is not critical that Iran upholds its JCPOA commitments and works with all JCPOA participants to de-escalate tensions,” the statement said.The deal originally also included China, Russia and the United States.  U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement last year.Also Monday, the U.N.’s nuclear monitor said uranium particles have been detected at an undeclared nuclear site in Iran.In a confidential report obtained by news agencies, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that manmade uranium particles had been discovered, without revealing the location of the undeclared site.The report also confirmed that Iran is enriching uranium at its underground Fordow facility — a site where, under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, it had agreed not to carry out any enrichment or enrichment-related research.Over the weekend, Iran began pouring concrete for a second nuclear reactor at its Bushehr power plant, which is monitored by the IAEA.Iran has said it intends to enrich uranium to 4.5%, slightly above the 3.67% limit allowed under 2015 deal. Enriching to 4.5% is far below the level needed to make a nuclear weapon.

Back to Jail, or Run for President: the Legal Maze Facing Brazil’s Lula

In allowing Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to walk out of jail last week, Brazil’s Supreme Court has blown open a legal labyrinth that could see the leftist former president return to prison just as easily as run for election again.The second chamber of the Supreme Court will soon hear an appeal from Lula’s defense team that Sergio Moro, the judge in the wide-ranging “Car Wash” corruption probe who secured Lula’s conviction and who is now justice minister in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet, did not act impartially.The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a person can only be imprisoned once all appropriate avenues of appeal are exhausted, so-called “res judicata”, which overturned the court’s opinion three years ago that convicted criminals face mandatory imprisonment if they lose their first appeal.Seventy-four year old Lula had been imprisoned for 19 months on corruption convictions carrying a nearly nine-year sentence.He is also facing several other corruption charges.If the Supreme Court’s second chamber annuls Lula’s conviction, he will once again be eligible to run for office, potentially opening the way for him to stand as the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate in the 2022 presidential election.On the other hand, if he loses an appeal relating to one of his other charges known as the “Atibaia” case, Lula could return to prison. Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers have advocated speeding up a constitutional amendment reinstating automatic jail time for convicts who lose their first appeal.Both the Lower house and Senate are currently analyzing constitutional amendments on this subject. Because they take longer to go through the legislative process than ordinary bills, nothing is likely to happen until next year.FILE – Demonstrators hold a Brazilian flag during an act in support of operation Car Wash and former judge Sergio Moro, in front of Supreme Court headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Sept. 25, 2019.The case against Moro and his alleged political bias in Lula’s conviction had been stalled since December last year, when justices Edson Fachin and Carmen Lucia took a stand against it and justice Gilmar Mendes requested a review of the case.”Annuling (Lula’s) conviction, if that’s what eventually transpires as a result of (Moro’s role), will lead to a new trial. That could happen,” justice Mendes said in an exclusive interview with Reuters in August.”It is important to do this analysis in a detached way. The media became very oppressive. The right verdict is not just a guilty verdict. This is not correct. We have to recognize that we owe Lula a fair trial,” Mendes said at the time. 

Evo Morales Heads to Asylum in Mexico, as US Applauds His Resignation as Bolivian President

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales is on a flight to Mexico, where he has been granted asylum.  Foreign Minister Marcelo Erbrad posted a picture of Morales onboard a Mexican air force plane, displaying a Mexican flag across his lap, as it departed La Paz Monday night.  “Your life and integrity are safe,” Erbrad tweeted. Ya despegó el avión de la Fuerza Aérea Mexicana con Evo Morales a bordo. De acuerdo a las convenciones internacionales vigentes está bajo la protección del de México. Su vida e integridad están a salvo. pic.twitter.com/qLUEfvciux— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) November 12, 2019Morales requested asylum in Mexico hours after he abruptly resigned from office Sunday in the wake of mass protests over last month’s disputed presidential election, which ended with him being declared the winner after partial results had predicted he would face a December runoff against former President Carlos Mesa, his main rival.  Late Monday, Morales tweeted he was on his way to Mexico and was “grateful for the openness of these brothers who offered us asylum to protect our life. It hurts me to leave the country, for political reasons, but I will always be concerned. I will return soon, with more strength and energy.”The United States government is applauding the Morales’s resignation, rejecting assertions by several countries, including Mexico, that he was forced out by a coup.U.S. President Donald Trump, in a statement, called Morales’ departure “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere. After nearly 14 years and his recent attempt to override the Bolivian constitution and the will of the people, Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.”The White House statement adds that the events in Bolivia “send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”A senior State Department official told reporters on a conference call on Monday afternoon that Washington does not consider the resignation of Morales the result of a coup, but rather it is an expression of the Bolivian peopled fed up with government ignoring its will.“There were protesters from all walks on life,” said a senior administration official, denying that it was mainly the Bolivian middle class on the streets demanding Morales’ ouster. “It’s probably a little bit simplistic to boil this down to class or perhaps ethnicity in a complex set of circumstances.”A senior U.S. official added, that “there’s been too much violence on both sides.”Some of Morales’ ministers and senior officials who stepped down are also seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.At the request of a number of nations, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Peru, the Organization of American States on Tuesday afternoon is to hold a special meeting on the Bolivian situation.Morales stepped down Sunday, hours after he had accepted calls for a new election by an OAS team that found a “heap of observed irregularities” in the October 20 election.The delayed results of the balloting, which fueled suspicion of vote rigging, indicated Morales received just enough votes to avoid a runoff against a united opposition trying to prevent him from winning a fourth term.Morales, on Monday, called on the opposition to keep the peace.Mesa y Camacho, discriminadores y conspiradores, pasarán a la historia como racistas y golpistas. Que asuman su responsabilidad de pacificar al país y garanticen la estabilidad política y convivencia pacífica de nuestro pueblo. El mundo y bolivianos patriotas repudian el golpe— Evo Morales Ayma (@evoespueblo) November 11, 2019According to the Bolivian constitution, the vice president is next in line to take power when the president steps down. The head of the country’s Senate is third in line, but both of them, as well as a number of other top ministers, resigned shortly after Morales, leaving a power vacuum.Opposition leader Jeanine Anez said Sunday she would assume the interim presidency of Bolivia, but Congress must first be convened to vote her into power.The U.S. government is calling for Bolivia’s legislative assembly to quickly convene to accept Morales’ resignation and follow the constitution to fill the political vacuum.“What’s important is to reconstitute the civilian government,” said a senior State Department official.Morales, the first member of Bolivia’s indigenous population to become president, announced his resignation on television shortly after the country’s military chief, General Williams Kaliman, called on him to quit to allow the restoration of peace and stability.Carlos Mesa credits a popular uprising, not the military for forcing Morales to step aside.The military made a decision not to deploy in the streets because “they didn’t want to take lives,” according to Mesa.Some of Morales’s ministers and senior officials who stepped down are currently seeking refuge in the Mexican ambassador’s residence.A high profile freshman opposition member of the U.S. House is also rejecting the Trump administration’s characterization of events in Bolivia.“What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup,” tweeted Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday. “The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections – not violent seizures of power.”What’s happening right now in Bolivia isn’t democracy, it’s a coup.The people of Bolivia deserve free, fair, and peaceful elections – not violent seizures of power.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 11, 2019

First Spanish Royal Visit Crowns Havana’s 500th Party

Cuba is in party mode this week, despite tough economic times worsened by tighter U.S. sanctions, as it prepares for its first state visit by a Spanish king, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, the capital.Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia arrived late on Monday for a three-day stay to commemorate the Cuban capital, founded by a Spanish conquistador on Nov. 16, 1519 and considered one of the architectural jewels of Latin America.The royal trip also underscores Europe’s rapprochement with Cuba’s Communist government, even as the United States doubles down on a decades-old policy of sanctions.Events to mark Havana’s anniversary include the inauguration of renovated landmarks, concerts, the illumination of city fortifications and a rare fireworks display over the Malecon seafront boulevard.”We Cubans like to party,” said trade union worker Miryelis Hernandez, 32. “Even if we are feeling low, we know we have to pick ourselves up, so it’s good Havana is celebrating its 500 years and there is a party.”The royal couple will tour Havana’s old historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting an eclectic mix of colonial, Art Deco and other styles that has been undergoing a slow facelift since the 1990s.A woman pulls towels off the line after they dried on the balcony of an old home, missing part of its roof, in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 10, 2019.Cuba focused more on building infrastructure in the impoverished countryside than on maintaining its cities in the early decades of Fidel Castro’s leftist 1959 revolution, allowing its punishing tropical climate to wreak havoc.”Havana luckily conserved its valuable architectural patrimony, unlike other Latin American cities that lost a good part of their historic centers’ patrimony due to real estate development,” said Cuban urban planning specialist Gina Rey.”But paradoxically this patrimony is very deteriorated, and (renovation) efforts have not been enough so far.”The only big recent changes to Havana’s urban landscape are the construction of a handful of hulking luxury hotels.Tourists sit on the terrace of newly opened Hotel Paseo del Prado in Havana, Cuba, Nov. 10, 2019.One of the main buildings on show for the celebrations will be the Capitol, a neoclassical gem built in 1929 and inspired by Washington’s Capitol.Reflecting a new geopolitical order, the gilded roof of its cupola was restored with the help of Russia.Just blocks away, though, are buildings that have collapsed or crumbling, such as the former Hotel Surf on the Malecon, clad in blue and salmon pink ceramic tiles and divided into apartments after the revolution.”It’s good they are doing restoration work,” said resident Mario Macias, pointing to rotten beams and holes in the ceiling where rain dripped through. “But maybe they should have started a long time ago.” 

Brazil Mulls Nuclear Agency as Stepping Stone to OECD Membership

Brazil is considering joining the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a specialized agency within the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which could serve as a stepping stone to joining the rich-nations club, its head said.NEA director general William Magwood said the membership of the agency, which groups 33 countries with 85% of the world’s nuclear power capacity, is straightforward and based on mutual interest in sharing state-of-the-art nuclear technology.”Membership can happen very quickly and that means it is a very practical stepping stone towards OECD membership,” Magwood said in an interview on Friday.He said South Korea used that path in the 1970s and, more recently, Argentina joined the agency in 2017 with the intention that it would help its pending bid for OECD membership.”They are certainly talking about it, it is something the Brazilian government is looking at,” Magwood said at the end of a visit to Brazil during which he visited the country’s unfinished Angra 3 reactor.Brazil had expected to join the OECD quickly with the backing that U.S. President Donald Trump offered President Jair Bolsonaro in March, but in October Trump said Argentina had U.S. endorsement to join first, dashing Brazil’s hopes.Membership of the NEA largely overlaps with the OECD, except for three exceptions: Russia, Romania and Argentina.Small is GoodMagwood said Brazil was doing the right thing in completing its mothballed third nuclear reactor, Angra 3, on the coast south of Rio de Janeiro, despite the price tag to finish the job, estimated at some 15 billion reais ($3.7 billion).General view of Angra Nuclear Power Plant complex during a media tour in Angra dos Reis, Brazil, Aug. 1, 2019.Brazil’s state nuclear power company Eletronuclear is looking for a partner for Angra 3 and has narrowed the field to China’s National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), France’s EDF or Russia’s Rosatom.”It is such a huge investment that it makes sense to go ahead and finish that plant, but beyond that Brazil should start looking at new technologies,” Magwood said.Magwood said Brazil is right to plan new reactors because climate change concerns will demand cleaner energy for the future, while Brazilian authorities he spoke with said the country is reaching the limits of its hydroelectric potential.As the government studies plans to build more nuclear plants in Brazil’s northeast, it would do well to study small reactors that are cheaper and safer and can be built in larger numbers, he said.The first of these, made by NuScale Power LLC, majority-owned by Fluor, will be on the market next year. 

Tens of Thousands Join Poland’s Nationalist Independence Day March

Tens of thousands of people answered the call of nationalist groups Monday, marching in Warsaw to mark the country’s independence day.The marchers chanted “God, honor, homeland!” and “No to the European Union!” while holding aloft torches and setting off fireworks to blanket the area with a cloud of smoke in the national red and white colors.A smaller group of counter-protesters sang “Bella ciao,” an Italian anti-fascist resistance anthem.The independence day march has been growing in size since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party came to power in 2015. PiS won a second term last month with 44% of the vote.The party has called for a revival of nationalist and Catholic values and a rejection of Western liberalism.  “We have to return to our roots. Our world has abandoned God and Christianity,” Robert Bakiewicz, one of the march organizers, told the crowds in central Warsaw. “We will die as the nations of western Europe are dying.”On November 11, Poles mark the end of World War I, which was also the end of 123 years of occupation by tsarist Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire. 

Ukraine, Rebels say Pullback in the East Completed

The Ukrainian military and Russia-backed separatist rebels have completed a pullback of troops and weapons from an area in eastern Ukraine embroiled in a conflict that has killed more than 13,000 people, officials said Monday.The disengagement near Petrivske that began Saturday followed a recent similar withdrawal in another section of the frontline, where separatists and Ukrainian forces have been fighting since 2014. Ukraine’s military said Ukrainian forces completed the pullback in Petrivske at midday Monday.The disengagement of forces in eastern Ukraine was seen as a key step to pave the way for a summit of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany on ending the conflict.Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed plans for holding the summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a phone call Monday, according to the Kremlin.Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said the summit could be held before the year’s end but wouldn’t comment on a possible date.”The summit should produce new positive results,” Ushakov said at a briefing. “It’s necessary to take the first steps toward the implementation of the agreement reached in Minsk.”Germany and France sponsored a 2015 agreement signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk that envisaged broad autonomy for the separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and an amnesty for the rebels — provisions that were never implemented because they were resented by many in Ukraine. 

Mexico Makes Arrests in Massacre of American Women, Children, Official Says

Mexico has made an unspecified number of arrests over last week’s massacre of three women and six children of dual U.S-Mexican nationality in the north of the country, Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said on Monday.”There have been arrests, but it’s not up to us to give information,” Durazo told reporters in Mexico City.The women and children from families of U.S. Mormon origin who settled in Mexico decades ago were killed last Monday on a remote dirt road in the state of Sonora by suspected drug cartel gunmen, sparking outrage and condemnation in the United States.Durazo said that prosecutors in Sonora, as well as at the federal level, were in charge of the investigation.However, a spokeswoman for the state government of Sonora said: “We don’t have that information.”Mexico’s government has said it believes the victims were caught in the midst of a territorial dispute between an arm of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel and the rival Juarez Cartel.On Sunday, Mexico’s government said it had asked the FBI to participate in the investigation into the killings.

Treasury Secretary: Brazil Reform Process Can Withstand Lula Release, Regional Tensions

The recent release from prison of former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and upsurge in political instability across Latin America will not hinder Brazil’s economic reform process, a senior Economy Ministry official said Monday.”I think, in fact, eventually you’ll have more debate about reform, which is good,” Treasury Secretary Mansueto Almeida told Reuters in Brasilia. “When you make changes to society based on proper debate, it’s good, because those changes are done with conviction.” FILE – Brazil’s Secretary of the Treasury Mansueto Almeida is seen during an event in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2019.Regarding Lula’s release last Friday after the Supreme Court overturned a previous ruling keeping people convicted of crimes in jail if they lose their first appeal, Almeida said Brazil should not be concerned about who the “political actors” are.”At the end of the day, I don’t think we need to be afraidof having a ‘politician A,’ ‘politician B,’ ‘politician C’ (released from jail),” Almeida said. “You have to put the debate to Congress and see how it evolves. If you convince the people and lawmakers, you make the changes. If not, you don’t. That’s democracy.”On Saturday, Lula gave a speech in which he strongly criticized Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and his economic views, while President Jair Bolsonaro and members of his cabinet took swipes back at the leftist former president.After approving a landmark pension reform bill that will save the public purse some 800 billion reais ($193 billion) over the next decade, Brazil’s Congress is set to debate other government proposals like tax reform and “administrative” reform.
 

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