Congress hears testimony on State Dept.’s three-year delay in applying sanctions on Iran


The news outlet Al-Monitor reported that according to a government watchdog, the U.S. State Department is three years late in applying certain sanctions on Iran. The report raises questions over whether the State Department is intentionally delaying sanctions on Iran as negotiations over its nuclear program proceed. The report, issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), was submitted to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and made public on Wednesday.

The Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) mandates that the State Department apply sanctions if those countries attempt to procure missile technologies or weapons of mass destruction. The State Department’s delayed compliance with INKSNA undermines its ability to effectively apply sanctions. The GAO wrote that the three year delay “may diminish the credibility of the threatened sanction.”

The GAO report also indicated that the State Department failed to adequately comply with INKSNA’s requirement that it report to Congress every six months on whether Iran, North Korea, or Syria attempted to acquire the aforementioned materials. Congress received the 2011 report only in December 2014.

When asked why the committee held the hearing so close to the deadline with Iran, Al-Monitor reported that Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) responded that “she wanted to point [to] what she called the administration's ‘hypocrisy’ when it comes to applying congressional sanctions on Iran.” She continued, “It's unbelievable. Iran keeps demanding more of us, and we keep on giving them more kind signals."

Al-Monitor also wrote that “[t]he GAO report is but the latest example of questionable sanctions enforcement that has raised congressional ire in recent months.” The U.S. failed to respond in time to the illegal sale of airplanes to the Iranian airline, Mahan Air. The UN Panel of Experts reported that countries were withholding intelligence on Iranian sanctions violations due to a “political decision” to ensure that the nuclear talks were not disrupted. The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration has pressured the CIA so that its analysts are now in an “impossible position regarding analysis of Iran’s nuclear program.”


Iranian women are hoping to attend the June 19 volleyball match between Iran and the United States at Azadi Stadium in Tehran, but official and unofficial forces are arrayed against them, according to a report published Wednesday in The Daily Beast.

Although Iran’s vice-president for women’s affairs has said that 500 women will be allowed to watch the match, other relevant government agencies have not confirmed that this is the government’s policy. Some activists fighting against the women, including clergyman Hamed Vasfi, who was interviewed by The Daily Beast, claim that allowing women to watch sporting events in stadiums would promote “prostitution.”

Vasfi said he would support the ban on women attending sporting events even if it hurt Iran’s image, adding that “[o]ur team might have to play against Israel, in which case we would have to forfeit the championship. Our values are more important for our country than international competitions are.”

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a female British-Iranian citizen, was jailed last year for attempting to attend a volleyball match. Following her arrest, The New York Times reported that activists were concerned that the “limits of personal expression and rights” had not been removed since Hassan Rouhani became Iran’s president nearly two years ago.

There were a number of acid attacks last year against Iranian women who were insufficiently veiled.

Earlier this year, Iran proposed a number of laws that would further marginalize women in society, but a month later Iran was elected to head United Nations Women, an organization dedicated to ensure global women’s equality. (via


Israeli artist Matan Ben-Cnaan is the first Israeli winner of the BP portrait award, one of the world’s most prestigious portrait awards. Judges were ‘struck by the engaging filmic narrative of this neo-Realist painting and the unnerving atmosphere that surrounds it.’ Ben-Cnaan was awarded the First Prize purse of £30,000 at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in London on June 16. Ben-Cnaan’s painting, partly inspired by the biblical story of Jephthah, beat out a record-breaking 2,748 entries by artists from 92 countries. “We were struck by the engaging filmic narrative of this neo-Realist painting and the unnerving atmosphere that surrounds it. The painting’s setting and the treatment of intense light and deep shadow was much admired,” the judges wrote. Ben-Cnaan, 35, studied fine arts at Haifa University and lives in the Jezreel Valley. His winning portrait features his friend Guy and step-daughter Annabelle at the center of the painting. (via Israel21c)

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