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IAEA Director-general Rafael Grossi (L) last month with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Iran has agreed to allow UN inspectors to reinstall cameras at the Karaj centrifuge facility amid the ongoing impasse at the nuclear talks in Vienna.

Why it matters: The Iranian decision came after long and difficult negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and threats by the U.S. and the E3 — France, Germany and the U.K. — to censure Iran at an IAEA board meeting later this month for interfering with inspections.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the agreement would address the concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and allow for renewed cooperation with the IAEA.
  • The agreement is likely to put any plans to censor Iran on hold.

Flashback: An attack in July badly damaged the Karaj centrifuge assembly facility, including the UN inspectors’ cameras.

  • The Iranians blamed Israel for the attack and used it to justify limiting the IAEA's access to the Karaj site and other nuclear facilities.

Meanwhile, there has been no real progress in the ongoing talks in Vienna.

  • European negotiators have accused the Iranians of dragging their feet, to the extent that a return to the 2015 nuclear deal may be impossible.
  • Amir-Abdollahian told Iranian media on Wednesday he is optimistic that progress can be made during this round of talks if the U.S. and E3 act realistically.
  • In what seemed to be a message to the Iranian delegation, the Russian lead negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted a photo of a trilateral meeting with the Chinese and U.S. negotiating teams. U.S. officials believe Chinese and Russian pressure could get Iran to move.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - World

China hosts string of Gulf officials in sign of growing influence

Wang Yi (right) greets Faisal bin Farhan on Jan. 10. Photo: Ji Chunpeng/Xinhua via Getty

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain and the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council are all visiting China this week for talks on boosting trade and security cooperation.

Why it matters: The flurry of visits by Gulf officials is part of China’s push for deeper involvement in the Middle East. For Beijing, the Gulf in particular is key to its energy supply and increasingly to its geopolitical influence.

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement on Sunday.

State of play: All four hostages were safely released after the day-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said on Saturday night.

  • "Around 9 p.m., the HRT — hostage rescue team — breached the synagogue, they rescued the three [remaining] hostages, the suspect is deceased," said police chief Michael Miller of Colleyville, located roughly 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The other hostage had been released earlier Saturday.
  • Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Driving the news: The Colleyville Police Department said in a statement nearly an hour after the synagogue's 10 a.m. CST Shabbat services began that officers arrived on the scene and "observed an emergency situation that warranted an evacuation of the surrounding areas."

  • The FBI's Dallas Field Office, including crisis negotiators, and Texas Department of Public Safety worked alongside local authorities as the situation unfolded, according to CPD.
  • Abbott tweeted around 9:30 p.m. CST, "Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe."

Matt DeSarno, the special agent in charge at the FBI's Dallas Field Office, said Saturday night that the suspect was focused on "one issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community."

  • According to Texas Department of Public Safety, the suspect said he wanted to see Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, who is serving an 86-year sentence nearby. Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 for assaulting U.S. federal agents, employees and nationals in Afghanistan.

"We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX," Siddiqui's attorney Marwa Elbially, said in a statement earlier on Saturday, per CNN. "We implore the hostage taker to immediately release all hostages and turn himself in."

  • "We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia's brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family," the statement continued.

What they're saying: "Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families," President Biden said in a statement.

  • "We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community," Biden added.
  • "There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country."

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

5 hours ago - Sports

Novak Djokovic loses Australian visa appeal

Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand during a practice session ahead of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 14, 2022. Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia on Sunday evening, facing a three-year visa ban after an appeals court in the country revoked his visa.

Driving the news: Djokovic will not be able to defend his Australian Open title when the tournament starts in Melbourne. The World No. 1 is looking to break a three-way tie with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for most Grand Slam men's singles titles.

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