Congress to move on Iran sanctions legislation within weeks


A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is preparing to reintroduce legislation in the coming weeks that would impose further sanctions on Tehran and call for a greater congressional voice in Washington’s negotiations with the Islamic Republic. The legislation, first introduced in December 2013, was not at the time brought to the floor for a vote. Lawmakers were vocal following the November 2014 elections that the upcoming Congress would make Iran a top priority on Capitol Hill -- Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters that "there will be a desire very quickly after the first of the year for Congress to weigh in on the topic in some form or fashion." Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Thursday told reporters that the Senate Banking Committee was expected to vote on the bill, which he cosponsored with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and which, per CNN, would “reimpose sanctions on Iran if [the President] couldn't certify that Iran doesn't finance terror groups that have attacked Americans and would keep Iran from maintaining low-level nuclear enrichment in a final deal.” The Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Thursday outlined how the presence of U.S. troops in the region provides the Iranians with additional leverage in the context of nuclear talks aimed at putting Iran's nuclear program beyond use for weaponization. He added that Washington also retains leverage in the form of potential cyber warfare capabilities. Experts expressed skepticism regarding the latter argument. Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, asked regarding the claim, "If Obama really has will to use cyber as a weapon if no deal, why does he keep bending to Khamenei's nuke demands?" Meanwhile, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki on Friday announced that Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are expected to meet next week in Geneva ahead of the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1.


Joint research proposals to focus on self-sustained agriculture, spinal cord injury treatments, tomato seed germination, online annotation tools, and photocurrent spectroscopy. Five new Israeli-US academic projects in a variety of fields were recently given the go-ahead for joint collaboration between faculty and research scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). The grants – to run January 2015 to August 2016 – were approved by the MIT-Israel-Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Seed Fund, part of the MIT International Science and Technology (MISTI) Initiative Global Seed Funds. BGU and MIT signed the agreement in May 2014 to create the fund to promote and support early-stage collaborations. It is the first seed MISTI seed fund in Israel, and covers travel and meeting costs to make international collaboration possible. (via Israel21c)

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