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Members of Congress from both parties call for renewal of Iran Sanctions Act

Posted by Albert Gersh - June 01, 2016


Democratic Senators Tim Kaine (Va.) and Chris Murphy (Conn.), both of whom supported the nuclear deal with Iran, introduced legislation to extend the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) that is set to expire at the end of the year, echoing the calls of members from both sides of the aisle, The Hill reported on Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Senator Kaine said, “This is to prevent a non-compliant Iran having a sanctions expiration date in its sights.” The Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 imposed sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and support for terrorism. When the nuclear deal was implemented in January, all nuclear-related sanctions were suspended. Members of Congress seek to renew ISA so that legislation will be in place in the event Iran violates the terms of the deal. The administration has urged Congress to refrain from renewing the Act, sparking frustration among members from both parties. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress in February: “We have all the snapback power that we need without the ISA” and asserted that Congress should give Iran time to show whether it will comply with the deal.

Ambassador Stephen Mull, lead coordinator for implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, testified before the Senate Banking and House Foreign Affairs Committees last week. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who helped author the legislation, pressed Mull in the hearing on whether a renewal violated the nuclear deal. Mull stated that the administration would have to look at the legislation. Menendez concluded: “I cannot fathom for the life of me how we don't embrace authorizing it as it is so that at the end of the day the Iranians know that if in the out years there is any violation, there is immediate snapback to the most significant sanctions that exist.”

In the House hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) also asked Mull whether a renewal of ISA would violate the nuclear deal. Mull responded that the administration did not need to act on such a renewal now. Sherman pressed, “Again, if it were published in the exact language that existed on the day the JCPOA [nuclear deal] was signed, would that be a violation of the JCPOA?” Mull responded: “Well, again sir, we’d have to look at what was actually published.” Sherman concluded: “You know what’s published. You don’t want to answer the question.”

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told Mull when he asked whether the administration supported the renewal: “[Y]ou seem very wishy washy on this...as you have been in multiple settings. And it's very off-putting. Either you support the Iran Sanctions Act and then you extend it or you don't. I'd like a yes or a no. Because you cannot snapback to something that does not exist after January 1.”


With concern rising after a string of terror attacks, airport representatives from 40 countries will visit Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport next month to learn about Ben-Gurion’s innovative security procedures.

Ben-Gurion is one of the world’s safest airports—no flight departing Israel has ever been hijacked, and there hasn’t been a terrorist attack at Ben-Gurion since 1972. The layers of security are largely unnoticed by the more than 16 million passengers who arrive and embark there annually.

The first layer occurs in Ben-Gurion’s Airport Security Operations Center, which monitors every flight in the area and conducts background checks on every passenger and flight crew scheduled to pass through Israeli airspace. Around ten flights per day are flagged for security irregularities and checked further, Dvir Rubinshtein, operations center manager for the Israeli Ministry of Transportation, explained to CNN. “There is, every day, a situation where we have such concerns [about a flight],”  he said, “and we check that and verify that everything is security cleared.”

Because of its record, other nations are looking into adopting Israeli security methods for their airports. “Most of the countries are actually coming here often to see how Israel is dealing with security aviation and the threats from terror aviation,” Rubinshtein said.

Aviation security expert Shalom Dolev told CNN that “some [of Ben-Gurion’s] fundamental principles and some best practices can be deployed in other parts of the world,” but because of its relatively smaller size, “it’s not a copy and paste because it’s not a situation where one size fits all.”

For example, Ben-Gurion handles about 20% of the passenger traffic of London’s Heathrow airport and 15% of the traffic handled by Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, which just signed a cooperation agreement with Ben-Gurion. (Heathrow is also reportedly considering adopting Israeli airport security methods.)

In February, Israel added a new security directive to airlines traveling to Israel in order to address other potential threats to flights, such as from “insiders that are working at resorts and may have access to the luggage of passengers, insiders that may work at airports or even in cabin crew,” Dolev said. “And last but not least, the phenomenon we are facing since the early-90s of suicide pilots.”

Dolev emphasized that Israeli airport security is ultimately at an advantage against threats because they “are more flexible, more dynamic to respond to emerging threats and respond effectively.” (via TheTower.org)


Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has released his 2016 list of summertime reads and it includes a 400-page history of the human race. Light reading it is not. But for Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, being included on Gates’ “5 Books to Read This Summer” is definitely a new feather in his cap. “This summer, my recommended reading list has a good dose of books with science and math at their core. But there’s no science or math to my selection process. The following five books are simply ones that I loved, made me think in new ways, and kept me up reading long past when I should have gone to sleep,” Gates blogged. Harari, a lecturer in the department of history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, offers up a fresh perspective on the history of our species. His book, first published in 2014, is being translated into almost 30 languages, according to his website. In his book, Harari argues that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; he calls the treatment of animals in modern agriculture probably the worst crime in history, and suggests that people were happier before we started farming. “Both Melinda and I read this one, and it has sparked lots of great conversations at our dinner table,” writes Gates on his blog. Gates is only the latest big-name Harari fan. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg included Harari’s book on his widely followed “A Year of Books” blog. “This book is a big history narrative of human civilization — from how we developed from hunter-gatherers early on to how we organize our society and economy today,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “Following the Muqaddimah, which was a history from the perspective of an intellectual in the 1300s, Sapiens is a contemporary exploration of many similar questions. I’m looking forward to reading these different perspectives.” (via Israel21c)

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