A good run-down of the day's events from the summary section of today's Nelson Report ...
SUMMARY: is there an object lesson for North Korea and the 6 Party talks as Iran seems ready to make a deal on at least freezing its nuclear program? A combination of hard work by European diplomats, the results of the US presidential election, and a convergence of US/Euro negotiating positions seems to have resulted in solid progress in defusing the Iranian nuclear weapons crisis. Previously skeptical US observers report optimism that a ârealisticâ European position has narrowed the differences which kept the Bush Administration at armsâ length, just last month. So the US is now more active than before, not just letting the Euros do it all. Big question remains...what can Iran âreally say âyesâ to?â Secretary of State Powell will meet the Iranians Nov. 22-23, and is expected to offer to lift some important bilateral sanctions, in return for Iranâs announcement itâs ready to suspend uranium enrichment âindefinitelyâ. Bush not likely to OK complete lifting of ILSA sanctions, but a quiet deal not to enforce it against European companies may be enough to move to the next level. In any event, a Powell deal on the 23d would head off an immediate sanctions vote crisis if the IAEA had to refer all this to the UN Security Council. Longer run, some observers warn Iran is not really giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions, but is trading temporary concessions for badly needed aircraft parts, investment money, etc. So at worst (for Iranian bomb supporters) Teheran has brought some time, and potentially opened a big rift between Europe and the US if things fall through because of a tough US line which neither China nor Russia would support, in any event.
Gossip: nothing solid yet, but business community sources are buzzing that every Republicanâs favorite free trade Democrat, Rep. Cal Dooley, of California, is a good bet to succeed Bob Zoellick at USTR. Dooley would not appease House Dems, who consider themselves international human rights victims, at this point. But the press and public certainly could be expected to see the symbolism of President Bush putting into practice his promise, last week, of a more sincerely bipartisan approach for his second term. Where is Zoellick going? Some say heâs hoping to land a private sector CEOâs position, and will keep his eye on future hopes at Treasury.
Supreme Court...the Drudge Reportâs Sunday item that Bush is seriously thinking of Clarence Thomas for Chief Justice is not taken seriously...and if advanced, would stiffen the backbone of every Democrat, and not a few Republicans. Smart money remains on Justice OâConnor for Chief. In meantime, itâs still not clear if Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter has talked himself out of the Judiciary Committee chairmanship by daring to warn about not overturning Roe v. Wade, then backtracking, frantically.