Kirk-Menendez Bill Losing Momentum
Luke Johnson and Jennifer Bendery, Huff Post – January 29, 2014
The controversial Iran sanctions bill is losing momentum in the Senate, especially after President Obama’s threat on vetoing the bill during his State of the Union. At least three of the Democratic cosponsors of the bill are now hesitant to go forward with voting for the bill. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who was a cosponsor said, “After speaking with the President, I am comfortable giving him additional time requested before this bill goes to the floor.”
Senator Rubio Challenging Obama’s Veto Threat
Julian Pecquet and Erik Wasson, The Hill – January 29, 2014
Senator Mark Rubio wants to go forward with the sanctions on Iran during the negotiations process despite President Obama’s warning that he will veto any bill related to the matter. Some senators (like Coons and Gillibrand) have changed their minds about voting for the bill after Obama’s State of the Union speech, claiming that we need to “give peace a chance.” But Rubio won’t give up, arguing that if the sanctions bill made it to the floor, it would certainly pass.
UN inspects Iranian mine for first time
Reuters – January 29, 2014
On Wednesday, U.N. nuclear inspectors visited the Iranian uranium mine “Gchine” near the Gulf port city of Bandar Abbas for the first time in almost a decade. The five hour inspection was one of the six concrete steps that Iran had agreed to follow through with in agreement with the IAEA (a separate agreement from the November 24th interim agreement with the P5+ 1). Going to the mine allowed inspectors to evaluate how much uranium was mined there, making it “harder for Iran to generate a secret stock of natural uranium.”
North Korea Nuclear Weapons Program Expands
Associated Press – January 29, 2014
U.S. intelligence officials have reported that North Korea has followed through on its threat to advance and expand the size of its nuclear weapons program. Reports from different think tanks monitoring North Korean activities have assessed that the plutonium reactor which was shut down in 2007 has been restarted.
Syria not complying easily on chemical weapons
Anthony Deutsch, Reuters – January 29, 2014
As of now, Syria has given up less than 5 percent of its chemical weapons and it is reported to miss next week’s deadline to send toxic agents abroad. The internationally backed operation that is being led by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is currently 6-8 weeks behind. Diplomats have said “the Syrian government is ‘teasing us’ by dragging its heels but doing enough to avoid being declared in non-compliance with its obligation to destroy its chemical weapons program.”
Russia has tested new missile despite treaty
Michael Gordon, NY Times – January 29, 2014
Russia has tested a new ground-launched cruise missile (and flight tests may have been going on for up to six years), despite the fact that Moscow has been prohibited in doing so due to a treaty that was signed with Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987. President Obama has not officially commented on the tests yet. The treaty that was signed in 1987 was meant to prohibit the testing, production and possession of medium-range missiles and was what some considered a contributing factor to ending the arms race.