GOP tries forcing Reid for vote on Iran sanctions
Josh Rogin, The Daily Beast – February 5, 2014
So far, the Obama Administration has succeeded in urging Democrats to oppose voting for the “Menendez-Kirk” Iran sanctions bill, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to “shelve” voting for the bill as of now. But dozens of Republicans are demanding Reid to allow a floor vote, apparently threatening to use “every parliamentary trick in the book to push…for a vote.” Additionally, 42 GOP senators wrote a letter to Mr. Reid demanding he allow the vote to take place.
Iran may modify Arak water reactor to ease Western worries
William Maclean, Mehrdad Balali, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters – February 6, 2014
Iranian officials have stated that their country may be willing to make modifications to the Arak water reactor in response to Western fears that the plant can be used to provide a supply of plutonium—a material that would be used to operate a nuclear weapon. The Islamic Republic has responded by saying the reactor has only been created to “produce isotopes for medical treatments” and have responded that Western concerns over the reactor are simply ways to put Iran under more political pressure.
Iran’s Hardliners tried to silence Rouhani
David Kenner, Foreign Policy – February 5, 2014
Iran’s hardliners attempted to prevent a live interview with President Rouhani to air on a state-run Iranian TV program on Wednesday. Rouhani took up to twitter to accuse the head of the country’s TV company, who tried to cancel the interview. Thankfully, after Rouhani’s public criticism, the state television ended up airing the interview, and Rouhani had a discussion with the Iranian public about the Iranian nuclear deal he signed, defending it as a “win-win agreement.”
Iran responds: U.S. demands on nuclear facilities have “no value”
Julian Pecquet, The Hill – February 5, 2014
A day after Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman testified to the Senate on Foreign Relations panel on Iran’s “no need for its underground fortified enrichment…or its heavy water reactor at Arak,” Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif responded that “Iran’s nuclear technology is non-negotiable…and remarks by US officials about Iran’s facilities have no value.” Zarif claimed that Iran is using the facilities only for peaceful purposes and will not negotiate about them.
Hagel pushes for crackdown on military ethics
Lolita Baldor and Robert Burns, AP – February 6, 2014
Defense Secretary Hagel has expressed concern over the depth of the various scandals recently put into the spotlight by the military, illustrating that no one really has “full grasp” of the issue at hand. Attempting to investigate the root of the problem, the Pentagon has just announced two retired officers (Larry Welch, former Air Force chief of staff and John Harvey, retired Navy admiral/nuclear-trained surface warfare officer) to lead an independent review of the personnel problems.
North Korea threatens to cancel reunions due to U.S. Bomber Training
Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times – February 6, 2014
On Thursday, North Korea threatened to cancel the family reunions it had promised to conduct with South Korea due to U.S. bombers flying across the Korean Peninsula. North Korean officials questioned, “How can they [South Koreans] talk about trust and improvement of relations while they are opening their sky for a fleet of American nuclear-capable strategic bombers?” The U.S. military made no immediate comment to the operational details, but said “it has maintained a rotational strategic bomber presence in the region for more than a decade.”
Assad Government misses another deadline
The Associated Press – February 5, 2014
The Syrian government has missed yet another deadline for eliminating its chemical weapons stockpile but claims it will “still meet a final deadline of June 30.” According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Syria was supposed to have given up its entire stockpile by Wednesday. In the meantime, U.S. Director of Intelligence, James Clapper, has said that Assad’s hold on power has only benefited and strengthened from the deal to abandon his chemical weapons arsenal.
Ban Ki-moon confident Syria will meet June 30 deadline
Timothy Heritage and Thomas Grove, Reuters – February 6, 2014
U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has said that he was confident that Syria would indeed meet their June 30 deadline to eliminate its entire chemical weapons program, despite missing several deadlines (such as the February 5th deadline). “I believe the process has been moving smoothly even though there have been some delays,” said Ban. Assad’s government has blamed delays in security problems and threats that extremist groups will attempt to attack as weapons are being transferred from Syria.