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US lawmakers urge Pentagon to buy Israel’s Iron Dome missile system

Press TV – April 22, 2018

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the US Congress have called on the US military to immediately purchase the Iron Dome, a short-range rocket interception system developed by Israel.

Congressional representatives Grace Meng and Peter Roskam authored this week a letter that was signed by 40 other lawmakers asking the Pentagon to invest $500 in Israeli missile and rocket systems in the upcoming 2019 fiscal year.

“US-Israel missile defense cooperation is a critical investment in the safety and security of Israel and stability in the Middle East,” Roskam said in a press release on Saturday, claiming that Israel’s test launches of the missile system indicated its reliability.

The letter was addressed to the House of Representative Appropriations Subcommittee and stated that the purchase and the investment would help US forces abroad protect themselves from “aggressive” countries like Russia and North Korea.

“Today, our forces face challenges from an emboldened, aggressive, and increasingly militarized Russia, North Korea, and other adversaries heightening our immediate need for advanced missile defense systems to protect our forward-based forces and key fixed installations,” Roskam noted.

“Adoption by the [US] Army of Iron Dome could provide an important near-term capability to US forces as well as a surge production capacity if we or Israel required the system in a time of crisis,” he argued.

The system passed its first ever trials in the US in September last year at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

In real combat situations, however, the system has had difficulty intercepting and targeting simple, unguided Palestinian rockets.

The Iron Dome, designed by Israel’s Rafael weapons manufacturer, uses Tamir interceptor missiles, largely produced by Raytheon, a major US arms company.

The US had previously considered deploying Tamir batteries across Europe as a deterrence against Russia.

The $500 million asked by the lawmakers is separate from Washington’s annual military and economic aid to Israel.

Under the latest aid package, Tel Aviv will receive $3.8 billion annually for the next 10 years, consisting of $3.3 billion in military aid and $500 million for the regime’s missile and rocket programs.

The US will pay Israel a total of $705 million for missile development in 2018, far more than the $147 million that Trump had initially requested. Congress increased the amount upon Israel’s request.

From 2019 onwards, however, Israel will no longer be able to ask Congress to raise US military aid beyond the amount stipulated in the memorandum of understanding that the two allies signed in 2016 under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

April 22, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

US senators seek additional sanctions against Iran

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US Republican Senator Bob Corker (left) and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin in the US Senate (file photo)
Press TV – February 3, 2017

A number of US senators have backed additional sanctions against Iran over the country’s missile program, arguing that Tehran “must feel sufficient pressure.”

Twenty-two senators, including Bob Corker (Republican from Tennessee) and Ben Cardin (senior Democrat from Maryland) pronounced their support in a letter they sent to US President Donald Trump on Thursday. Corker is the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Full enforcement of existing sanctions and the imposition of additional sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program are necessary,” the senators wrote.

They added that “we look forward to supporting your Administration’s efforts to hold Iran accountable.”

The Reuters news agency reported on Thursday that the Trump administration is expected to announce new sanctions against Iran on Friday to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic.

This is while the US president said on Thursday that “nothing is off the table” in terms of a response to Iran’s latest ballistic missile test.

Hours earlier, Trump said the White House has formally put Tehran on notice over its recent ballistic missile test.

“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump tweeted, echoing his national security adviser’s comments a day earlier.

‘Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act of 2017’

Also on Thursday, a group of Republicans in the US House of Representatives introduced a bill for new sanctions on Iran as the Trump administration is mulling anti-Iran measures.

The measure, called the Iran Non-Nuclear Sanctions Act of 2017, seeks sanctions against Tehran for “supporting terrorism, abusing human rights, and testing ballistic missiles.”

It was presented by New York Representative Lee Zeldin, Illinois Representative Peter Roskam, New Jersey Representative Leonard Lance and Colorado Representative Doug Lamborn.

The proposed legislation comes after US House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would support imposing additional sanctions on Iran over its recent missile test.

“I would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran,” Ryan told reporters on Thursday at a weekly press conference.

“We need to have a tough-on-Iran policy … We should stop appeasing Iran,” he said.

Washington has said Sunday’s ballistic missile test was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Arms control experts have also said that Iran’s missile tests are not banned under the nuclear agreement and the Security Council resolution, because Iran’s missiles are not meant to deliver nuclear warheads.

Resolution 2231 calls on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

February 3, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Republican lawmakers push Boeing to scrap any Iran deal

Press TV – May 4, 2016

Three US Republican lawmakers are pushing the American aerospace giant, Boeing, to refrain from getting into any deal with Iran.

In a letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, the Illinois Republican congressmen asked the company no to business with Tehran for any supply of planes and other services.

Congressmen Peter Roskam, Bob Dold and Randy Hultgren referred to a last July nuclear agreement between Iran and the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany (P5+1) that removed anti-Iran sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program, saying in their letter that any Iran deal with Boeing would be legal but “not right,” according to Fox News.

“This is not about doing what is legal – it is about doing what is right,” the letter said.

The Republican lawmakers reiterated US allegations of Iranian support for terror, telling Boeing that Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) can turn the planes into combat aircraft.

“We urge you not to be complicit in the likely conversion of Boeing aircraft to IRGC warplanes,” said the lawmakers.

Congressman Roskam, chairman of the US House Committee on Ways and Means Oversight, has been particularly vocal in his anti-Iran position, previously pushing for Europe’s multinational plane-maker Airbus to scuttle its $25 billion deal to sell 118 planes to Iran.

Roskam on Friday introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would prohibit the US Department of Defense from awarding contracts to any entity that does business with Iran.

This is while Boeing is not alone in its interest in Iranian ventures. General Electric Co., among others, is also reportedly exploring business opportunities in Iran.

“Should any agreements be reached at some future point, they would be contingent on the approval of the US government,” Boeing said in a statement in April.

Last month, Iranian officials said Boeing had proposed to sell new models of its 737, 777 and 787 aircraft to Iran and promised after-sales support.

In late January, Iran’s Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh-Kashan said the country was planning to purchase over 100 planes from Boeing.

The official noted that Iran’s order list from the American company included 737s for domestic flights and two-aisle 777s for long-haul routes.

Iranian officials have already emphasized that the country will need to buy 500 commercial jets of various models for various short-, medium- and long-distance routes.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Congressmen Try to Restrict Free Speech To Prevent Boycotts of Israel

By Mitchell Plitnick | LobeLog | February 7, 2014

Earlier this week, a bill was hastily removed from the agenda of the New York State Assembly. The bill was designed as a response to the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli educational institutions. But it was so poorly written that even opponents of the ASA boycott saw it as potentially damaging to academic freedom in general. The bill was removed from the fast track in New York so it could be re-written to be more acceptable to its potential supporters. A similar bill is currently working its way through the Maryland state legislature.

Now the US Congress is getting into the act, with a bill that has the same goal, but takes a different approach. The bills in New York and Maryland did not specifically mention Israel, although it was clear that the ASA action against Israeli academia is what prompted the bills. Instead, they tried to argue that academic freedom meant that the state must penalize institutions that choose to express themselves through the power of boycott if the target is a country that has extensive academic connections with the United States.

Even Jewish groups supported the withdrawal of the New York bill, and many people agreed that, however onerous they thought the ASA action was, this sort of legislation was contrary to academic freedom and to freedom of expression.

The bill introduced by Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) relates only to academic boycotts against Israel. Where the state bills proscribed penalties, including a reduction of funding against any institution that participated in an association that called for a boycott and even prohibited reimbursing faculty for travel expenses to attend conferences by such groups, the congressional one threatens to cut off all funding under the Higher Education Act to any university “…if the institution, any significant part of the institution, or any organization significantly funded by the institution adopts a policy or resolution, issues a statement, or otherwise formally establishes the restriction of discourse, cooperation, exchange, or any other involvement with academic institutions or scholars on the basis of the  connection of such institutions or such scholars to the State of Israel.”

That is a very broad statement. “Significantly funding,” read broadly, can easily include not only institutional support of academic associations like ASA, but also student groups, fraternities/sororities and research collectives. So, this is very far from affecting only universities.

This goes well beyond boycotts. It bars any group attached in any way to a university or group of universities from any material reaction, beyond voicing criticism, to Israel’s policies. Nor does it make any distinction between Israel and the settlements. That means that no institution of higher education can object in any material way to an association or connection to Ariel University, a fully accredited Israeli university located in the settlement of Ariel. That institution is highly controversial within Israel, and its very establishment contravenes US policy, yet a student group which is funded by a university would risk the university’s federal funding, all of it, if they refuse to work with that school.

Moreover, the fact that Roskam’s bill is specific to Israel is particularly noxious, and should be a matter of deep concern for anyone who supports Israel or who is concerned about anti-Semitism, as well as to those of us who support Palestinian rights and the right of American citizens to free expression. The bill creates a unique category of protection for Israel, based on Roskam’s wholly unfounded assertion that the ASA boycott decision is an “anti-Semitic effort.”

I, myself, do not agree with academic boycotts of Israel as a whole (boycotts targeting Ariel University and any other settlement program have my full support). That is a matter of tactics, however. My disagreement is based entirely on my view that an academic boycott of all of Israel is counter-productive at this time. But there is no reasonable basis for contending that a boycott against a country that has held millions of Palestinians under a military occupation depriving them of their civil rights and routinely violating their human rights is motivated by anything other than the policies of the occupying power.

By singling out Israel for this “protection,” the Roskam bill, not the ASA, is treating Israel as a special case rather than a country like any other, which must contend with material as well as rhetorical opposition to its policies. Basing it on Israel being a “Jewish state” serves not only to undermine the Jewish effort to be accepted like any other people, but actually promotes resentment and hostility toward Jews.

Roskam’s bill is blatantly unconstitutional, as are the various bills in the state legislatures, although the state versions are slightly less onerous and blatant in their disregard of the Constitution. Boycotts are legal and legitimate expressions protected under the First Amendment. The argument will be made that the state does not have to fund such activities, which is true, but there is a big difference between not funding legitimate free expression and state interference with it. As one constitutional lawyer, Floyd Abrams, told BuzzFeed: “The notion that the power to fund colleges and their faculties may be transformed into a tool to punish them for engaging in constitutionally protected expression is contrary to any notion of academic freedom and to core First Amendment principles. I believe that academic boycotts are themselves contrary to principles of academic freedom but that does not make the legislation being considered any more tolerable or constitutional.”

The bill is probably not going to be successful in Congress. The efforts have a much better chance in the state legislatures. Still, it was brought forth by Roskam, and his Illinois colleague Dan Lipinski, a Democrat, was an initial co-sponsor, so the bill is ostensibly bi-partisan. It also came with the support of Israel’s former Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. So it should not be blithely dismissed despite its blatant unconstitutionality.

February 9, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment