Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman: Additional sanctions on Iran if no framework agreement reached


Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Tuesday called for additional sanctions on Iran in the event that efforts for Iran and the P5+1 to reach a framework agreement by March 2015 are unsuccessful. Menendez’s comments, delivered at the Wall Street Journal’s annual CEO council meeting, come just after the P5+1 failed to reach an agreement with the Islamic republic over its nuclear program by the November 24 deadline. Negotiations were last month extended through June 2015, with talks expected to resume this month. Following Menendez’s Tuesday comments, top lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday pressed experts testifying on Capitol Hill on the ongoing nuclear talks, with Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) calling the sanctions relief Iran is receiving “boundless and neverending” and noting that “sanctions relief has certainly failed to get a favorable final agreement.” Lawmakers, including incoming Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), last month warned that the implementation of new sanctions against Iran would be a priority in the next Congress. Administration officials had last year assured lawmakers that the White House would cooperate in crafting new economic measures against Iran if a deal had not been reached by the summer. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki had in November 2013 told reporters "if the Iranians don’t get to a 'yes' at the end of six months, we can put in place more sanctions," and shortly thereafter then-White House Spokesman Jay Carney told journalists that "if Iran fails to reach agreement with the P5-plus-1 on the more comprehensive agreement over the course of six months, we are very confident that we can work with Congress to very quickly pass new, effective sanctions against Iran." Administration officials, including Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs State Wendy Sherman and Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen, are expected to brief top Senate lawmakers on the ongoing negotiations with Iran on Thursday.


A new initiative to bring post-trauma sport programming to the children of southern Israel is underway. Mifalot, a sport development organization, kicked off the project with the goal to raise $12,000 in funding for the educational programs and to rebuild a soccer field damaged by Hamas rocket fire at which the programs will take place. The funds will provide over 1,000 children living near the Gaza border with twice-weekly sessions to help them cope with the trauma of living under constant rocket fire. “We’re incredibly excited to launch this campaign to help the children of southern Israel who have lived under constant rocket fire throughout their lives. Soccer can be an incredible vehicle in helping individuals, particularly children, cope with this trauma,” said Dr. Meir Orenstein, Mifalot CEO. “To bring soccer programs and a new field would be a very special thing for all children in the region.” Mifalot hopes its campaign will also raise awareness for children suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. The group has over 16 years experience using soccer as an educational and cultural tool for change. Mifalot turned to crowdfunding to raise the funds and has a campaign now running on indiegogo. (via Israel21c)

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