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Western powers are suspicious of Iran's nuclear engagement

Here is today's foreign policy: Blinken demands Iran Return to the negotiating table, the Russian President Wladimir Putin receives the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow and liberal parties dominate Moroccothe election results of.

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Here is today's foreign policy: Blinken demands Iran Return to the negotiating table, the Russian President Wladimir Putin receives the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow and liberal parties dominate Moroccothe election results of.

If you would like to receive the Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please log in here.

Blinken says the time for the Iran deal is running out

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called on Iran to resume negotiations with world powers over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal and warned the new administration in Tehran that US patience is already waning.

Last week, the new Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said that another round of talks in Vienna would not come soon and that "the other party understands that it will take two to three months for the new government to make and plan a decision".

This time frame was mocked by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who described it as "far too long".

During a visit to Germany with Maas on Wednesday, Blinken said the United States had "become very clear that the ability to rejoin the (deal), return to mutual compliance, is not unlimited."

In fact, Amirabdollahian's proposed two to three-month gap fits into the schedule of the Biden government, which officially started indirect talks with Iran in April – around three months after taking office. However, Maas and Blinken's remarks reflect growing concerns that the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is not interested in following in the footsteps of his predecessor Hassan Rouhani and accepting restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for sanctions easing and greater economic freedoms.

Raisi said on Saturday that his government was open to "target-oriented negotiations" but not to Western "pressure".

Watchdog worries. West concerns have increased recently after Iran was criticized in two reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency for a lack of transparency and obstruction to the work of its inspectors. The nuclear watchdog also pointed to Iran's recent enrichment activity, in which 10 kilograms of uranium were enriched to 60 percent – well below the threshold required for a nuclear bomb, but well above the 3.67 percent allowed in the 2015 agreement.

The two reports have led Iran to consider such a move for the second time this year. The Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned against any reprimand and told the EU Council President Charles Michel that even "unconstructive" steps by the IAEA would disrupt the Vienna negotiating process.

Making Iran happy may initially be in everyone's interest, as an IAEA conference on September 21 in Vienna could serve as the unofficial seventh round of talks.

Israel accelerates. While Iran and the US argue diplomatically, Israel is considering a more aggressive stance. On Monday, Israel’s chief of staff, Aviv Kohavi, said his military plans to crack down on Iran’s nuclear program had "accelerated sharply".

What we are following today

Putin receives Lukashenko. Russian President Vladimir Putin received Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Moscow today on the eve of the military exercises between the two countries. Lukashenko is likely to arrive in the Russian capital as economic sanctions imposed by Western nations for repeated human rights violations are causing Belarus to seek more help.

Earlier this month, Lukashenko claimed Russia was on the verge of delivering a wide range of military equipment, suggesting the S-400 air defense system could be part of the deal. Lukashenko's visit adds to a busy day of diplomacy in Moscow as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov receives his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid.

Biden on the COVID-19 strategy. President Joe Biden is expected to deliver a major public address today in which he will provide an update on the White House's pandemic response strategy. The talk comes amid stagnating vaccination rates and a national death rate averaging around 1,400 per day – twice as high as last year when vaccines were not yet available. Biden faces the difficult challenge of getting the remaining 30 percent of US adults to vaccinate, as barriers of political ideology, age, and class are all factors in vaccine delay.

Elections in Morocco. Morocco's PJD party, the majority power in a coalition government in the country, appears to have lost heavily in the parliamentary elections on Wednesday after preliminary results that show gains for liberal parties. Initial results show that the Islamist PJD won just 12 seats in parliament this time around, a drop of 113 seats compared to its performance in the 2016 elections. The RNI liberal party more than doubled its 2016 results, winning around a quarter of the available seats in the Moroccan parliament with 395 seats, while another liberal party got 82 seats.

China's Afghan aid. China pledged $ 31 million in aid to Afghanistan on Wednesday as it takes its first steps in an emerging relationship with the new Taliban government. Food supplies and aid will be pledged ahead of an international donor conference next week where the United Nations is hoping to raise $ 600 million for immediate relief efforts. Beijing's move underscores the challenge Washington faces in coordinating an international response to the Taliban takeover, which Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer of Foreign Policy covered in detail on Sept. 2.

Guinea suspended from ECOWAS. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspended Guinea from the organization on Wednesday after a military coup that ousted President Alpha Condé. ECOWAS has called for a "quick return to normal constitutional order" as it is sending a mediation team to the capital, Conakry, today. Coup leader Lt. Col. Mamady Doumbouya has promised to form a transitional government, although he has not said when this will happen.

Residents of a Sydney apartment block that was locked down as part of state-level coronavirus measures in the state of New South Wales, Australia, have complained of overzealous restrictions after it was discovered that health officials were rationing the amount of alcohol residents were allowed to receive each day .

According to state regulations, residents have a choice of six beers, a bottle of wine, or a small bottle of liquor as part of their daily consumption to ensure compliance. The legality of the move has been questioned, reports news.com.au, as current public health orders do not include alcohol consumption restrictions.

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