Democrats sign support letter for Iranian negotiations
Rebecca Shabad, The Hill – February 4, 2014
More than 70 House Democrats have signed a letter to President Obama supporting the administration’s policy on negotiations as opposed to sanctions. The lawmakers wrote that they understood the skepticism of the 6-month interim agreement and yet they believed “that Congress must give diplomacy a chance” as President Obama highlighted in his State of Union speech last week. No House Republican has signed the letter to the White House.
French business delegation visits Iran
Associated Press – February 3, 2014
A French business delegation arrived in Iran on Monday in hopes of reviving economic ties with the country. The group was made up of at least 100 potential investors, who met with other Iranian investors during a conference on Tuesday. The group was made up of some of the biggest French companies, and was considered one of the largest groups from the EU to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran after nearly 30 years. Iranian president’s chief of staff met with the delegation, urging them to invest in the long-term rather than short-term, as “whoever looks long-term in Iran will be the winner.”
AIPAC loses momentum over sanctions bill
Mark Landler, New York Times – February 3, 2014
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)— one of the strongest lobbies in the U.S.—has lost a major battle in attempting to pass the “Kirk-Menendez” sanctions bill. After tough resistance from the President and numerous grass-roots organizations pushing senators not to support the bill, the lobbying group stopped pressuring Democrats to vote for the bill. AIPAC hasn’t lost a major showdown with the White House since when Reagan was in office, and typically pass bills unanimously. Officials at AIPAC have stated that technically the bill was never voted on and argue that it can still take effect if negotiations fail.
Kerry and A Syrian Failure
Jeremy Herb, The Hill – February 3, 2014
Senators McCain and Graham both have reported Secretary of State Kerry acknowledged in a private delegation that Obama’s policy in Syria is failing and needs to change, perhaps by arming the rebels. Kerry’s spokeswoman has denied such claims, saying this was “not stating the accurate facts of what was discussed.” However, the Obama Administration did state last week that the effort to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles has “seriously languished and stalled.” A Democratic House member present at the meeting argued that Kerry was not arguing for new policy, but simply “reacting to new developments…including the threat of an attack on U.S. soil.”
North Korea capable in building mobile missile launchers
Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire – February 3, 2014
North Korea has apparently developed a “partially indigenous infrastructure to make their own launchers.” Some are worried because with such a capability, Pyongyang will be able to launch strategic missiles from the road, where it is much more difficult to find and even eliminate such weapons through drone or missile strikes. Despite this worry, U.S. military experts have cautioned against getting too worried until it has been tested—something North Korea is apparently attempting to accomplish.
Russians Heat Up over Missiles
Global Security Newswire – February 3, 2014
The head of NATO faulted Russia for continual threats of military deployments this Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, saying, “We must refrain from threats against each other.” The U.S. has recently found out that Moscow has developed a new cruise missile, which was supposed to have been eliminated through the INF Treaty from 1987. The Russians responded that the missile-defense system located in Eastern Europe by the U.S. is as much of a threat for the former Soviet Union.