In her weekly Legislative Round-up, Lara Friedman points out four more amendments to the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, in addition to the two already posted on INW (Dodd-Shelby Sanctions Legislation and the Brownback annual report on Iran's military power and strategy).
As I have said repeatedly and consistently throughout the year, the most likely vehicle for passing legislation on Iran this year is amendments to must-pass legislation. It is very clear that both Democrats and Republicans are using the Defense Authorization bill as means for politicking and proving their toughness for dealing with Iran, which is proving an important issue in this election cycle. I will not be surprised if all of the amendments on Iran are considered germane and voted on during the debate of the FY'09 Defense Authorizaton bill next week. In my humble opinion, the debate on the non-binding H.Con.Res. 362/S.Res. 580 is basically a distraction at this point as the Senate prepares to debate and pass binding legislation on Iran, though still possibly subject to a veto, that will include more of the same wrong-headed approach for dealing with Iran, i.e. more punitive measures (e.g. sanctions, divestment, more money for missile defense, etc.) without any meaningful change in U.S. policy that includes incentives (e.g. a real credible offer for sustained, direct diplomacy without preconditions).
Here are the other four Iran amendments submitted, as included by Lara in her ever-fabulous Weekly Legislative Round-up:
SA 5359: Offered by Sen. Brownback (R-KS), SA 5358 would amend language in the bill related to the authorization of funds for the Airborne Laser System program. The original bill states that funds may not be obligated or expended for the program until the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that the system "has demonstrated, through successful testing and operational and cost analysis, a high probability of being operationally effective, suitable, survivable, and affordable." The amendment would change this to a certification that the system "has demonstrated, through successful testing and operational and cost analysis, a high probability of being operationally effective, suitable, survivable, and affordable relative to the ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea, Iran, and other countries with active ballistic missile development and fielding programs."
SA 5360: Offered by Sen. Brownback (R-KS), this amendment is similar to SA 5488, requiring an annual (rather than biannual, as stipulated in SA 5488) report on military power of Iran. The report would be required to address: "(1) The goals of the grand strategy, security strategy, and military strategy of Iran during the 20-year period beginning on the date of such report, and the relationship between such strategies and the current security situation in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. (2) The size, location, and capabilities of the land, sea, air, and irregular forces of Iran, including the Artesh, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Lebanese Hezbollah, and any other force controlled by the Iran or receiving funds or training from the Iran. (3) Developments in and the capabilities of the ballistic missile, nuclear, and chemical and biological weapons programs of Iran. (4) The degree to which Iran depends on unconventional, irregular, or asymmetric capabilities to achieve its strategic goals. (5) The irregular warfare capabilities of Iran, including the exploitation of asymmetric strategies and related weapons and technology, the use of covert forces, the use of proxy forces, support for terrorist organizations, and strategic communications efforts. (6) Efforts by Iran to develop, acquire, or gain access to information, communication, nuclear, and other advanced technologies that would enhance its military capabilities. (7) The nature and significance of any arms, munitions, military equipment, or military or dual-use technology acquired by Iran from outside Iran, including from a foreign government or terrorist organization, or provided by Iran to any foreign government or terrorist organization. (8) The nature and significance of any bilateral or multilateral security or defense-related cooperation agreements, whether formal or informal, between Iran and any foreign government or terrorist organization. (9) Expenditures by Iran on each of the following: (A) The security forces of Iran, whether regular and irregular, including the Artesh, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. (B) The programs of Iran relating to weapons of mass destruction. (C) Support provided to terrorist groups, insurgent groups, irregular proxy forces, and related activities. (D) Bilateral military aid."
SA 5362: Offered by Sen. Coleman (R-MN), this amendment would bar the U.S. from entering into an agreement for nuclear cooperation with Russia, bar the export and transfer/re-transfer of nuclear material, facilities, or components to Russia, until the President certifies that "Russia has suspended all nuclear assistance to Iran and all transfers of advanced conventional weapons and missiles to Iran, including the SA-20 system" or " Iran has completely, verifiably, and irreversibly dismantled all nuclear enrichment-related and reprocessing-related programs" and "all Russian forces have been withdrawn from the undisputed territory of the sovereign state of Georgia and Russia has complied with its obligations under the cease-fire agreement signed on August 15, 2008."
SA 5425: Offered by Sen Kyl (R-AZ), to amend a review of the ballistic missile defense policy and strategy of the United States mandated in the bill to include a review of, among other things, "The ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea, Iran, and other countries with active ballistic missile development and fielding programs, including the following: (A) The existing inventories of short-range, medium-range, long-range, and intercontinental-range ballistic missiles of each such country, and the ranges of such missiles based on possible launch points. (B) The ballistic missile programs currently under development by each such country, including, for each such program, an assessment of-- (i) the ranges of the ballistic missiles under such program; (ii) the fuel propulsion systems for such missiles; (iii) the booster and warhead characteristics of such missiles; and (iv) the capacity of such missiles to employ countermeasures, decoys, or multiple re-entry vehicles. (C) The ballistic missile tests and exercises of each such country since 2005. (D) The proliferation of ballistic missile hardware, technology and expertise of each such country. (E) The ballistic missile launch facilities of each such country, whether existing or under construction."