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The prevailing view is that President Donald Trump will announce he’s walking away from the Iran nuclear accord at 2 p.m. today in Washington. What comes next isn’t so clear. Here are four possible outcomes:
1. The deal holds: For now. Europe and Iran agree to stick by its terms and hope that the next president isn’t Trump. This would face major challenges — Iran’s economy is struggling and European companies would risk falling foul of America’s punitive measures.
2. The fudge: In a twist, Trump says the deal isn’t working and accuses the Iranians of being in breach of its terms. He sends the issue to dispute resolution, and eventually, the UN Security Council. It may be worst-case scenario for Iran as it could see the U.S. destroy the deal from within, reinstating penalties without officially abandoning it. The U.S. could paint Iran as the guilty party.
3. The head scratcher: Trump says something no one really understands. He reiterates his intention to leave the deal, but says nothing about sanctions or the process of exiting. Could countries get exemptions? What about industries? It’s loose strings and open ends for everyone.
4. R.I.P JCPOA: Trump exits the deal and slaps Iran with punitive measures. Secondary sanctions also kick in, sending European companies fleeing. Angered Iranian hardliners push the boundaries of the country’s nuclear activities, and tilt further to Russia and China, setting them on a collision course with the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Protecting the midterm vote | With four major states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — holding party nominating contests today, Nafeesa Syeed traveled to another swing state, Pennsylvania, to look at how the officials are trying to safeguard outdated voting technology from hackers. Click here for more on the record number of women running in this years midterms, which will determine control of Congress.
Italy in a mess | Italy is heading for fresh elections. The anti-establishment group Five Star yesterday abandoned efforts to form a government and demanded a new ballot in July. That call was backed by the anti-immigrant League. Between them they have the votes to block President Sergio Mattarella’s push for a placeholder government to see through the 2019 budget.
China, U.S. face off | Envoys from the world’s two largest economies are expected to square off over Trump’s proposed tariffs tomorrow at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, even as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic adviser plans another U.S. trip to avert a trade war. Meanwhile, JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s Jamie Dimon told Bloomberg’s Stephen Engle the two sides were just learning what divides them. “There’s no reason it can’t be bridged,” he said.
Sessions showdown | The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee is threatening a quick vote to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of Congress if the Justice Department doesn’t turn over material related to the panel’s Russia investigation. Triggering a confrontation over Sessions could please Trump — a critic of his own Justice Department — but other Republicans worry such a move could muddy the party’s midterm campaign message.
Venezuela desertion | Military officers are joining the exodus of Venezuelans to Colombia and Brazil, fleeing barracks and forcing President Nicolas Maduro’s government to call upon retirees and militia to fill the void. Fabiola Zerpa and Noris Soto explain why the high desertion rates at bases in Caracas and the countryside are complicating security plans for the presidential election in 13 days.
What to Watch
And finally ... Vladimir Putin’s inauguration yesterday had its odder moments amid the Kremlin’s gilded splendor. Ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder received pride of place ahead of Russian government ministers, shaking Putin’s hand even before Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Nearby lurked Hollywood action star Steven Seagal, who was given Russian citizenship by Putin in 2016. Also there was Alexander Zaldostanov, better known as the “Surgeon,” the leather-clad leader of the Night Wolves biker club, who said he wore a formal shirt specially for the occasion.
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