U.S. Congress pushes to finalize new Iran sanctions package
Roberta Rampton, Reuters – July 26, 2012
U.S. congressional negotiators are trying to finish work on new sanctions aimed at further restricting Iran’s oil revenues, a package they hope to approve by the end of next week before lawmakers leave Washington for an extended recess. The sanctions, which have been in the works for more than seven months, are designed to crack down on transactions with Iran’s national oil and tanker companies, and to hamper the ability of Iranian banks to transfer funds electronically.
Iran’s Leader Says Sanctions Won’t Alter Policies
Ali Akbar Dareini, AP – July 25
Western-led sanctions and diplomatic pressure will not force Iran to halt its nuclear program, Iran’s Supreme Leader said Wednesday. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters in Iran, voiced confidence that the Islamic Republic can beat the latest punitive measures aimed at blocking the country’s vital oil and banking industries over the disputed program. “They (the West) explicitly say they need to increase pressures, tighten sanctions to force Iranian authorities to reconsider their calculations,” Khamenei said in comments broadcast on state television. “But a look at the facts leads us not only to avoid reconsidering our calculations, but to move on our intended path with greater confidence.”
Marine General Expects ‘Rolling Transition’
Jim Michaels, USA Today – July 25, 2012
The surge of U.S. Marines and other forces in southwestern Afghanistan has broken the Taliban’s grip on a former stronghold, allowing coalition forces to begin turning over security to Afghans, commanders said. “It will be a rolling transition to more training and advising and assisting and less of the counterinsurgency operations,” Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, told USA TODAY during a short visit to Afghanistan. “The Afghan security forces will be in the lead and we’ll be in support.” The transition comes as the United States plans to withdraw 23,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of September, leaving about 68,000 U.S. troops nationwide. The pullout was ordered by President Obama, who wants most combat forces out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
US Nuclear Forces
Pentagon More Than Doubles Cost Estimate For B61 Nuclear Bomb
Kate Brannen, Defense News – July 25, 2012
According to a new estimate from the Pentagon, the life-extension program for the B61 nuclear bomb will now cost roughly $10 billion, two-and-a-half times the original cost proposed. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee, said she was briefed on the bomb’s new estimate July 23.
GOP senators launch tour warning of defense cuts
Donna Cassata, Associated Press – July 25, 2012
Senate Republicans warning of the devastating impact from looming defense cuts will hit four presidential battleground states next week, ratcheting up the political pressure on President Barack Obama even though Congress endorsed the reductions. Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte announced Thursday that they will hold a series of town hall meetings in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire — states that are home to military installations and defense contracting jobs. The three said in a statement that they will ‘‘sound the alarm about the profound negative consequences of these cuts to our national security and economy.