James M. Lindsay

The Water's Edge

Lindsay analyzes the politics shaping U.S. foreign policy and the sustainability of American power.

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The World Next Week: Iran Talks Resume in Geneva, Chile Votes for President, and New Space Missions Launch

by James M. Lindsay
November 14, 2013

P5+1 foreign ministers meet with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Iran nuclear talks in Geneva on November 9, 2013 (Jason Reed/ Courtesy Reuters). P5+1 foreign ministers meet with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Iran nuclear talks in Geneva on November 9, 2013 (Jason Reed/ Courtesy Reuters).

The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed the ongoing Iranian nuclear negotiations, the Chilean presidential election, and the space missions launching next week.

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The highlights:

  • It looked last week as if the high-level talks in Geneva on Iran’s nuclear program were poised to yield an interim agreement. Foreign ministers from the P5+1 countries stopped what they were doing and jetted off to Switzerland to hammer out the final details. Journalists had their ledes written for the Sunday papers announcing the historic breakthrough. Then suddenly the imminent deal became no deal at all. In the week since then, there has been a long line of official finger-pointing—including on Twitter—over who derailed the talks. Meanwhile, back in Washington, DC, pressure is growing in Congress to impose additional sanctions on Iran, which the White House says would put the United States on a “march to war” and supporters say would force Tehran to capitulate. Talks will resume next week when lower-ranking diplomats again assemble in Geneva, but expectations for what that conversation will produce are low.
  • Chileans head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president in the sixth presidential election since democracy returned to Chile in 1989. Incumbent president Sebastian Piñera is not running because the Chilean constitution bars incumbent presidents from seeking re-election. The ban does not apply to former presidents, however, which is good news for Michelle Bachelet, who served as Chile’s president from 2006 to 2010. She is favored to win on Sunday, though if she does not pull in 50 percent of the vote she will have to go to a run-off election on December 15 that she will be heavily favored to win. Bachelet and her main opponent, Evelyn Matthei, share a history that mirrors a deep and painful divide in Chile’s history. Their fathers were friends and fellow generals in the Chilean army. Matthei’s father sided with General Augusto Pinochet during the 1973 coup. Bachelet’s father, however, sided with President Salvador Allende. Pinochet had General Bachelet imprisoned, where he was tortured and eventually died.
  • Next week is a busy one for the space business. NASA launches its Maven (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter on its journey to Mars. The European Space Agency sends three satellites into space as part of its Swarm mission to unlock the secrets of the Earth’s magnetic field. And the Russian Federal Space Agency launches a resupply mission to the International Space Station. China, India, and Japan also have active space programs, and other countries are likely to join them in the coming decades. These efforts could greatly expand our understanding of the heavens; they may also open up an entirely new venue for great power competition.
  • Bob’s Figure of the Week is 383. My Figure of the Week is Xi Jinping. Our audience-nominated Figure of the Week comes from TWNW listener @WNCTravelIntel, who picked the sheer number of islands in the Philippines. (7,107 to be exact). As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.

For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:

Iranian Nuclear Talks: Richard Haass argues that Iran and the United States should start final-status negotiations. UPI outlines Secretary Kerry’s plea to Congress to delay passing more sanctions. The European External Action Service describes the EU’s position on Iranian nuclear negotiations. Reuters reports that the IAEA sees no changes in Iran’s nuclear program since Rouhani entered office. PBS Newshour analyzes how close Iran is to building a nuclear weapon.

Chilean Elections: The International Foundation for Electoral Systems has a Chilean and international election guide. The Monkey Cage posts pre-election predictions and explains why Michelle Bachelet is favored to win. The Telegraph writes about the history between candidates Michelle Bachelet and Evelyn Matthei. Al-Jazeera argues that Chile’s elections show new political dynamism. The Economist shows how social unrest in Chile could affect the elections. I interviewed President Bachelet back in 2011 when she was executive director of UN Women.

Space Missions: NBC News details NASA’s new Maven spacecraft. ABC News reports that India has begun its mission to Mars. NPR describes why India’s Mars mission is cheaper than NASA’s. The European Space Agency has information on its Swarm space mission. Space.com has the boldest Mars missions in history.

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