Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I.R. Iran’s Military Power Subject to New U.S. Study

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Iran’s military will be subject for the first time to the kind of U.S. assessment reserved for China’s expanding forces as lawmakers seek a more accurate analysis of the Persian Gulf oil power’s strengths and strategy. Congress ordered an annual report on Iranian military goals and capabilities, including the country’s missile and nuclear programs, in a provision tucked into a 1,200-page measure authorizing defense spending. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law last week. The demand for the analysis reflects lawmakers’ concerns that periodic U.S. intelligence estimates focusing on Iran’s nuclear efforts are too limited in scope. The U.S. and nations in Europe and the Middle East see current and potential threats from Iran, including its support of designated terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, interference in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a push to dominate the Gulf.

“Iran’s actions pose a threat to peace and stability in their region, and these have repercussions for global security,” said California Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. He and Kansas Republican Sam Brownback in the Senate proposed the provision and won Democratic support for its inclusion in the defense bill. “Our hope is that our nation and countries around the world will gain better insight on the true intentions of Iran,” McKeon said. The legislation requires the first report to be produced by Jan. 30 in classified and unclassified versions. The timing may coincide with increasing pressure on Obama to toughen his approach on Iran should a policy based on diplomatic overtures fail to win concessions. The U.S. is working with France, the U.K., Germany, Russia, and China to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can lead to nuclear energy production or a nuclear bomb. (Read more...)