December 6, 2011

Iran News Roundup 12/6

Obama vs. Kirk
Speaking at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute today, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) claimed that the unanimous passage of his amendment to force the Administration to sanction Iran’s central bank demonstrated that support for Obama’s Iran policy has “collapsed” on Capitol Hill (The Hill 12/6).  The Obama Administration pushed back against the amendment, which was attached to the Senate’s defense authorization bill, warning that it could undermine international efforts on Iran, raise energy costs that would threaten a teetering European economy, and enrich Iran.  The Administration is working to change the central bank amendment during negotiations between the House and Senate as lawmakers reconcile a final defense bill to send to the President (Washington Jewish Week 12/6).  The White House has threatened to veto the bill, but for detainee provisions separate from the Iran sanctions .

Fallen U.S. drone
U.S. Military officials acknowledged yesterday that Iran is indeed in possession of an RQ-170 Sentinel drone (Think Progress 12/5).  Iranian military officials claim that the drone was taken down near Iran’s eastern border, yet Defense officials and experts doubt that the drone was shot down or taken down by a cyber-attack (Washington Post 12/5). There has been speculation that Iran could have used a ground based jamming system, Avtobaza, it purchased from Russia 6 weeks ago to take down the drone.  There is concern that Iran could exploit the drone’s technological capabilities (Christian Science Monitor 12/5). 
Escalating tensions
The Financial Times reports that Washington met with UAE representatives “to press for further isolation of Iranian institutions…threaten[ing] to cut off any transgressors from the US financial system” (Financial Times 12/5). Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guard in Iran has raised “operational readiness” in response to increased sanctions and the fear of a military strike (Telegraph 12/5).
Human Rights
The International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran has launched a project to press for the release of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
The Guardian reports that 50 countries will meet in Vienna to discuss international support for Iran’s drug war amid concern for the number of drug-related executions inside Iran (Guardian 12/6).
Additional Notable News:
International schools in Tehran have closed in the aftermath of the storming of the British Embassy, reports Reuters.
Reuters reports that the U.N. has urged nations to take in residents of Camp Ashraf, a base of the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (MEK).
The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Clinton will meet with Syrian opposition leaders today.
Haaretz reports that Iran has threatened to cut off funds to Hamas if they flee Syria.

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