Gottemoeller FINALLY confirmed!
Global Security Newswire – March 6, 2014
The Senate has finally voted to confirm Rose Gottemoeller to serve as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security. A 58-42 vote ended the debate. Gottemoeller has filled the position in an acting capacity since 2012, waiting 541 days until finally confirmed. Some have said that Senate Republicans opposed her confirmation and attempted to postpone voting for her nomination due to her lead role in negotiating the New START arms-reduction treaty with Russia. Democrats have claimed that the delay was “payback” for their historic decision in November to eliminate filibusters for most nominations by presidents.
MOX facility on standby- different reactions
Derrek Asberry, Aiken Standard – March 6, 2014
The news this week by the NNSA that the MOX facility at the Savannah River Site could go into “cold stand-by” has evoked various responses from both sides of the spectrum. Obama’s decision for the “cold stand-by” comes after the Government Accountability Office reported in June that the project is $3 billion over budget, costing an estimate $7.7 billion. The Union of Concerned Scientists celebrated Obama’s budget proposal, saying, “The DOE has already wasted billions on this risky project…it’s time to pursue a cheaper and safer alternative.” Others, such as Republican Senators Tim Scott, Joe Wilson, and Lindsey Graham have all released statements disagreeing with the decision. Senator Scott said, “The administration is breaking an agreement with the people of South Carolina, who agreed to host the MOX facility under the impression the nuclear material would be processed into usable fuel…not sit in South Carolina indefinitely.”
U.S./Iran Diplomacy is working
Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg News – March 5, 2014
U.S. and Iranian diplomats said they are making progress towards Iran’s nuclear work. The IAEA 35-member board of governors concluded two days of talks in Vienna yesterday. “There is optimism based on the process that is in place and the progress that is being made,” said Joseph Macmanus, the U.S. IAEA envoy. Iran wants IAEA suspicions over the possible military dynamic to its nuclear work cleared up “as soon as possible,” said Ambassador Reza Najafi. Hence, the IAEA has doubled checked data supplied by intelligence agencies and has come to the conclusion that “the information is broadly consistent” with military work, said Director General Yukiya Amano.
Israel seized Iranian ship with load of rockets
Isabel Kershner, NY Times – March 5, 2014
Israeli Defense Forces have reported that apparently a merchant ship in the southern Red Sea was carrying an Iranian shipment of advanced weapons destined for Gaza. The ship was seized in international waters between Eritrea and Sudan, approximately 1,000 miles south of Israel’s southernmost port. As well as civilian cement cargo, the ship was carrying dozens of Syrian manufactured M-302 rockets. Asked what evidence there was that the shipment was destined for Gaza, Israel’s Defense Minister replied, “The route is known,” as Israel has been tracking this shipment for months. Officials from Hamas– the ruling government in Gaza– have denied the Israeli assertion that the weapons were destined for Gaza and have said the assertions “were meant to justify the continuation of the blockade of Gaza.” In regards to intercepting vessels at sea, Israeli former navy commander, Eliezer Marom, has said “Israel has the right by international law to defend itself.”
North Korea defends its missile tests
Jung Ha-Won, AFP – March 5, 2014
On Wednesday, North Korea defended a recent series of missile and rocket tests as “justifiable self-defense drills” and “ordinary military practices” in response to various criticisms from South Korea and Washington. The tests are largely to have been a response to the ongoing South Korean-U.S. military exercises that take place yearly over the peninsula. The (North) Korean People’s Army spokesman has said the “real provocations” were the joint military drills being held in South Korea that began on February 24th. Recently the two Koreas held the first family reunions after nearly three years– an event that rose hopes for further cooperation with the two Koreas. On Tuesday the Pentagon reported that North Korea poses a growing threat to the U.S. due to its pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.