Thursday, April 30, 2015

'Cowardly Character': Sen. Cotton Fires Back at Iranian FM

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took a dig Wednesday at Sen. Tom Cotton, an arch-critic of the emerging nuclear agreement, prompting the Arkansas Republican to fire back a debate challenge, accompanied by a personal gibe about Zarif hiding safely in the U.S. while his country was at war. Read

Senate Defeats Another Amendment to Corker Bill, This One Targeting Iran’s Support for Terrorism

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday night defeated another Republican amendment to legislation allowing Congress to review a nuclear agreement with Iran, this time a provision that would have required the president to certify that Tehran is not sponsoring terrorism against the U.S. Read

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sen. Coats Says Obama is ‘Desperate for a Deal’ With Iran; Recalls Clinton’s North Korea ‘Mistake’

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) on Tuesday portrayed President Obama as being desperate for a nuclear deal with Tehran, and scorned his assurances that an agreement will be verified to prevent cheating, pointing to failed past efforts to shut down North Korea’s nuclear programs. Read

UN Cultural Agency Slams Israel's Claim to Religious Sites

The U.N. Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) executive board has adopted two resolutions condemning Israel for activities at locations whose religious significance for Jews goes back thousands of years. Read

Senate Rejects Attempt to Make Iran Nuclear Agreement a Treaty

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday evening voted down the first of a raft of amendments to legislation providing for congressional review of a negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran, with a majority of senators rejecting a bid to give a deal international treaty status. Read

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

US Nuclear Negotiator Foresees 'Awful Amendments' to Iran Nuke Bill

Ahead of Senate consideration of a bill allowing Congress to review the Iran nuclear deal, the administration’s top nuclear negotiator left the door open Monday for a presidential veto, pointing to what she called “pretty awful amendments” that could make their way into the legislation. Read

Monday, April 27, 2015

After Air Strikes on Syria, Israel Warns Iran to Stop Arming Hezbollah

Israel reportedly carried out at least three airstrikes in Syria over the past two days, and on Sunday its defense minister warned Iran to stop arming Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group that has long been Tehran’s proxy in its fight against Israel. Read

Ayatollah: U.S. Has a Black President, But Police Still Persecute Blacks

In the latest of occasional diatribes aimed at the United States, Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday invoked recent controversies over police shootings to accuse U.S. police of persecuting African Americans. Read

Friday, April 24, 2015

UN Non-Proliferation Meeting Could Bring New Wrangling Over Israel

As U.N. member-states meet in New York next week for a five-yearly conference to review the 45 year-old nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a long-stalled Arab-led initiative targeting Israel’s presumed nuclear weapons arsenal looks likely to be a source of acrimony. Read

Kerry on Being Secretary of State: ‘Best Job in the World … I’m Loving It’

Being secretary of state is “the best job in the world,” John Kerry told a young audience at the State Department on Thursday. “And I’m loving it.” Read

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Samantha Power in 2008: Obama ‘Can Actually Be Trusted’ to Recognize Armenian Genocide

In early 2008, Samantha Power, later to become ambassador to the United Nations, urged the Armenian American community to support Sen. Barack Obama’s White House bid by highlighting his pledge to recognize long-ago atrocities against Armenian Christians as genocide. Read

Expert: ‘On Issue After Issue, the Iranians Prevailed and We Backed Down’

The emerging agreement on Iran’s nuclear program falls much more within the red lines Tehran declared at the start than with those laid down by the United States, a former senior State Department arms control official told lawmakers on Wednesday. Read

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Report: Beijing Responded to Growth in Christianity in 2014 With Harsh Persecution

Chinese Christians and followers of other faiths last year experienced the harshest persecution in more than a decade, according to a report released Tuesday by a Christian human rights group. Read

State Dep’t Says US Navy Presence in Yemeni Waters Not a Message to Iran

Expanding the U.S. Navy presence in waters off Yemen was not intended to send a message warning the Iranians not to send weapons to their Houthi allies, according to the Obama administration. Read

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Assad: ISIS Was Created in Iraq, ‘Under the Supervision of the Americans’

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was created in Iraq in 2006 “under the supervision of the Americans,” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told French television in an interview broadcast on Monday. Read

Muslim Groups: Avoid ‘One-Sided’ Declarations on Armenian Genocide That Ignore Muslim Suffering

A coalition of U.S. Islamic organizations does not want President Obama to describe the mass killings of Armenian Christians a century ago as a genocide, arguing that “a one-sided interpretation of the 1915 events” could harm the U.S.-Turkish strategic relationship. Read

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ayatollah: U.S. Fabricated Iran Nuclear Myth; Any Attack Will Be Met by 'Fist'

Iran’s supreme leader on Sunday accused the United States of having fabricated the “myth” that Iran seeks nuclear weapons in order to characterize it as a security threat. Read

Sen. Graham: Without Anytime, Anywhere Inspections, Congress Will Reject Iran Deal

President Obama’s framework nuclear deal with Iran “is deteriorating before our eyes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said on Sunday, predicting that any final agreement that does not require “anytime, anywhere inspections” of Iranian sites will never be approved by Congress. Read

UN Chief Wants Action on $100 Billion Climate Fund

More than five years after President Obama and other leaders agreed on a 2020 goal of raising $100 billion each year from public and private sources to help developing countries deal with climate change, the United Nations wants to see action. Read

Friday, April 17, 2015

Turkish Leaders Invoke Crusades, Inquisition in Reaction to Pope’s Armenian ‘Genocide’ Comment

As Turkey’s leaders fume over Pope Francis’ use of the term “genocide” to describe mass killings of Armenian Christians a century ago, the country’s top religious figure invoked the crusades and said the furor would accelerate a controversial scheme to turn Istanbul’s most famous historical church into a mosque. Read

Pentagon: Russian Missiles to Iran Won’t Impact Our Military Options

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that a Russian decision to sell Iran a sophisticated air defense system does not affect the military’s options for preventing Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. Read

Thursday, April 16, 2015

WH Says Iran Bill Allows Vote on Sanctions Only; Corker Disagrees

The Obama administration is stressing that any congressional vote on the Iran nuclear deal will be solely on the question of easing sanctions, and would not be an up-or-down vote on the deal itself, but that interpretation appears to be at odds with the wording of a bill unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. Read

New Int’l Religious Freedom Bill, Backed by Catholic Bishops, Targets 'Non-State Actors'

Citing violent religious conflicts in Iraq, Syria and parts of Africa, Catholic leaders have thrown their weight behind a U.S. House bill designed to significantly strengthen U.S. government efforts to promote international religious freedom. Read

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

After Unanimous Committee Vote, Obama Drops Threat to Veto Iran Nuclear Review Bill

Congress looks likely to get to review the Iran nuclear agreement being negotiated by the U.S. and five other powers after all, after the White House on Tuesday dropped a threat to veto legislation that was winning significant support across the aisle and looked set to achieve a veto-proof majority. Read

Three GOP Presidential Hopefuls Slam Cuba Terror Delisting; Two Could Try to Stop It

Three Republican presidential aspirants, two Americans of Cuban ancestry and a former governor of Florida, on Tuesday slammed President Obama’s decision to strike Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Read

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lawmakers Emerge from Kerry Iran Briefing ‘Skeptical,’ ‘Unpersuaded’

The Obama administration’s success in persuading lawmakers to back its Iran diplomacy will be put to the test on Tuesday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee marks up a bipartisan bill that would give Congress the right to review a nuclear agreement before it is implemented. Read

State Dep’t: Russian Move to Sell Advanced Air Defense System to Iran Won’t Affect Nuclear Talks

The State Department on Monday played down any link between the Iran nuclear negotiations and a Russian decision to lift a ban on selling the Iranians sophisticated surface-to-air missiles that could help protect their nuclear facilities against future military strikes. Read

Monday, April 13, 2015

UN Gives Iran Leadership Post in Agency for 'Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women'

With little fanfare, a U.N. body has given Iran seats on several entities, including one dealing with women’s empowerment, another with children, a third with narcotics and a fourth with crime prevention and criminal justice. Read

Obama Defends Kerry, Slams GOP Critics, as Gloves Come Off Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Is the Obama administration spinning a framework Iran nuclear agreement announced 10 days ago, trying to make it appear more palatable in a bid to stave off congressional opposition long enough to get to a final deal? Read

Friday, April 10, 2015

Ayatollah Rejects Core Element of Nuclear Deal: Inspections

In his keenly-awaited reaction to the provisional nuclear deal announced in Switzerland a week ago, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday attacked a key pillar of the entire deal being promoted by the Obama administration – the question of inspections of suspect sites in Iran. Read

Ayatollah Accuses Sunni Rivals of Genocide, Treason

Tensions between Iran and its Arab Gulf neighbors worsened Thursday as Iran’s supreme leader accused Saudi Arabia of war crimes and “genocide” in its two-week-old campaign of airstrikes in Yemen. Read

Thursday, April 09, 2015

State Dep’t: Concerns About Iran’s Ballistic Missiles 'Don't Go Away' Even If Nuke Deal Happens

The State Department said Wednesday that U.S. concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program will remain, even if a final agreement on Iran’s nuclear program is implemented. Read

State Dep’t Sees Lots of ‘Big Words and Big Thoughts’ in Iran Warnings From Kissinger, Schultz

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf sounded a dismissive tone Wednesday about warnings from two former secretaries of state about the nuclear agreement negotiated with Iran, saying she saw lots of “big words and big thoughts” in their evaluation but not “a lot of alternatives.” Read

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

State Dep’t Clarifies Obama’s 'Muddled' Words on Iran Nuclear Breakout Time

President Obama appeared to concede this week that under a final nuclear deal, Iran -- after 13 or so years -- would be able to build a nuclear bomb quickly if it chooses to do so. But State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf insisted later that the words had been misread. Read

WH: Terrorism Provision in Corker Bill Designed to ‘Undermine’ Nuclear Agreement

A terrorism-related provision in a bill seeking congressional review of the Iran nuclear deal is “intended to undermine the agreement,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday, citing that as one reason for the administration’s opposition to the legislation. Read

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Obama: Expecting Iran to Recognize Israel As Part of Nuke Deal Is a ‘Misjudgment’

Requiring Iran to recognize Israel as part of a comprehensive nuclear agreement would be a “fundamental misjudgment,” President Obama said on Monday, adding that the U.S. cannot depend on the nature of the regime in Tehran changing. Read

Lawmakers Press Obama to Honor ‘Armenian Genocide’ Campaign Pledge

Dozens of U.S. lawmakers are calling on President Obama to honor a campaign promise to formally recognize the mass killings of Armenian Christians in Ottoman Turkey a century ago as a “genocide.” Read

Monday, April 06, 2015

Corker: If Obama Thinks Iran Deal Is ‘Good for the Nation’ Surely He Can Sell It to Congress

As U.S. and Iranian officials wrangled over key points in a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sounded cautiously confident Sunday that he could garner veto-proof majority support for legislation allowing Congress to review the deal before implementation. Read

Obama Sees ‘Chance for a Different Type of Relationship’ With Iran

Political developments in Iran in recent years may signal a desire to end the regime’s international isolation, and could provide an opportunity for a different type of relationship with the U.S. in the future, President Obama said in a weekend interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Read

Friday, April 03, 2015

Iran to State Department: 'There Is No Need to Spin’

The depth of mistrust over the Iran nuclear agreement announced in Switzerland was quickly evident Thursday, with Iran’s top nuclear negotiator accusing the Obama administration of spinning what had been agreed upon as the basis for a final text. Read

Obama in 2013: Iran Doesn’t Need Underground Facility, Heavy-Water Reactor for Peaceful Program

The international agreement reached Thursday on Iran’s nuclear program allows it to retain two key nuclear facilities – albeit with significant alterations to their functioning – which President Obama said 15 months ago the Iranians do not need “in order to have a peaceful nuclear program.” Read

Missing From the Iran Deal Announcement: Ballistic Missiles

The framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program announced in Switzerland on Thursday has no direct reference to reining in Tehran’s ballistic missile activities, despite international concerns that the Iranians in past years carried out work relating to developing a nuclear payload for a missile. Read

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Bolton: Belief That Sanctions Will Curb Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions ‘Fundamentally False’

There is no evidence that sanctions imposed against Iran over its nuclear activities slowed down the program, and the notion that future sanctions will curb its ambitions to become a nuclear weapons power is “fundamentally false,” former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said Wednesday. Read

Iranian-Backed Shi’ite Militia Among the Victors As Iraqi Forces Retake Tikrit

Iraqi forces shown on state television entering parts of Tikrit liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) Wednesday were accompanied by Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia who were instrumental in earlier phases of the month-long battle for the town. Read

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Nigerians Elect Muslim Former Military Dictator As President

Nigerians have elected as president a Muslim former military dictator who once pledged support for shari’a (Islamic law) to be implemented across Africa’s most populous country. Read

Another Iran Nuclear Deadline Passes; One More Day of Talks

As midnight (6 PM eastern) neared in the Swiss city of Lausanne, the Obama administration announced that the end-of-March deadline set by negotiators for a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program will not be met, and that talks will continue for one more day. Read