Congress seeks a voice on Iran Deal


Currently in the Senate, there are multiple bipartisan initiatives proposing avenues that would include Congress in the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. Since the advent of the negotiations in November 2013, Congress has sought to play a role through a variety of measures. The two most prominent pieces of legislation are the Kirk-Menendez bill, which would apply economic pressure against Iran if no agreement is reached, and the Corker-Menendez bill, which gives Congress the ability to vote “up or down”  if the P5+1 and Iran reach a final deal.

On Monday, 47 Republican Senators sent a letter to the leadership of Iran declaring that “Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Despite the different proposals for the Senate to play a role, reporter Josh Rogin wrote on Sunday, “Senators from both parties are united in an insistence that, at some point, the administration will need their buy-in for any nuclear deal with Iran to succeed.”

Many analysts believe that without congressional approval, if a final deal with Iran is reached, it will not outlast President Barack Obama’s tenure as President of the United States. Without congressional involvement, the Obama administration would strike a deal with Iran through executive action which could signal to the Iranians that the “deal would be with the President alone,” writes Harvard Law School Professor Jack Goldsmith. He continues, “The bottom line, then, is that any deal struck by President Obama with Iran will probably appear to the Iranians to be, at best, short-term and tenuous.  And so we can probably expect, at best, only a short-term and tenuous commitment from Iran in return.”

When it comes to the Iran negotiations, the Obama administration says that they only see a role for Congress  when it comes to sanctions. If a final agreement is reached, they will eventually look to Congress for the lifting of sanctions. The White House said that Congress has had a role to play when it has drafted and passed the sanctions legislation that President Obama subsequently signed into law. The White House does not believe that an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program would require congressional approval.


Iran’s unveiling of its new Soumar land-to-land cruise missiles on Sunday has raised questions about the intentions of the Islamic Republic’s missile development program.

The Times of Israel reports:

In a development significant both for its timing and its content, Iran unveiled on Sunday a new cruise missile that it claimed would extend the Islamic Republic’s range by 25 percent, placing locales as distant as Budapest, Warsaw, and Athens within striking distance.

The Iranian revelation, complete with videos of a missile launch, come amid Tehran’s negotiations with the six world powers over its nuclear program and infrastructure.

While the Times observed that the payload of the Soumar is not enough to carry a nuclear warhead, its range raises questions about its intent.

Tal Inbar, the head of space research at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, called the new cruise missile and the increased range it represents [2,500 kilometers] “a dramatic shift.”

He said in an email statement that the Soumar, like other cruise missiles, flies at a low altitude, making it hard for radar to detect.

Iran’s leadership has often claimed that its missile program should not be a factor in negotiations over its nuclear program because the missiles are of “a completely defensive nature,” but the range of the Soumar threatens a number of European capitals, despite Russia’s insistence that Iran’s missile program “threaten neither Europe nor the U.S.”

One of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s twelve unanswered questions about Iran’s program, highlighted by The New York Times yesterday, was about the re-entry system built aboard a Shahab-3 missile, which would prevent its payload—possibly a nuclear bomb—from burning up when it re-entered the atmosphere.


What does an Israeli company developing a real-time crime-reporting system have in common with an Israeli company developing an obesity treatment? Each is paired with a Singaporean entity through the Singapore-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (SIIRD). Since 1997, 140 joint Israeli-Singaporean industrial R&D projects have been supported and facilitated through this foundation established by the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Israeli Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB).Now, Israeli companies collaborating with Singaporean research institutes are also part of SIIRD. At the same time, a new accelerator for Israeli startups in cooperation with the National University of Singapore (NUS)is being launched by Startup East, a private initiative connecting Israeli and Asian startups and investors through joint acceleration and training programs. All of this activity points to the increasing importance of Asia as a trading and R&D partner for Israel. It’s easy to understand why there are so many Israeli initiatives in much larger countries such as China and Japan.Yet despite Singapore’s population of less than six million, it offers something unique. SIIRD Senior Manager Shirley Refuah explains that Singapore is a gateway to the rest of Asia, both as a physical hub for sea and air cargo and business travel, and as a progressive, tech-savvy, English-speaking business culture enabling Israeli companies to reach potential markets in China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. Some 37,000 international companies currently market their products from Singapore. “Like Israel, Singapore is also a small country without many natural resources, that built itself up in a short time and has become a significant player in the world. Since the 1960s, Israel has had a representative in Singapore and our bilateral relations are strong and based on similar values,” Refuah says. “Being a small and smart country that seeks to reach the technological forefront in all fields, Singapore is a great place to implement new technology, offering extensive opportunities for Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship.” (via Israel21c)


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