• 25 July 2008
  • Posted By Caroline Tarpey
  • 0 Comments
  • Legislative Agenda

On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved HR 6574, a bill that grants Congressional approval for the proposed “123” US-Russia nuclear agreement if Russia certifiably halts nuclear cooperation with Iran.

The bill sets specific conditions on the 123 agreement’s implementation. According to section 201, the President must certify that Russia has sought to “prohibit, terminate and prevent the transfer of goods, services, and technology” to Iran for use in nuclear, biological or chemical weapons or ballistic missile programs. The bill provides an exception to this rule, permitting Russian support for the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which the Bush administration defends as a nonproliferation safeguard. It further stipulates that during the past year Russia must have had “no cooperation” with Iran.

Yet, the bill provides the President with “alternative certification” criteria which can be used if evidence confirms that Russian-Iranian cooperation has existed in the past year, said Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), the sponsor of the bill. Those conditions require that Russia has “terminated any significant cooperation,” “instituted effective measures to prevent [its] recurrence,” and “prosecuted any Russian national” who cooperated with Iran in the areas of concern.

The President may only use this alternative method of certification for two consecutive years. After that time, Russia must have fully severed any banned cooperation with Iran in order to meet the conditions for Congress’ continuing approval of the 123 agreement.

Further conditions require Presidential certification of Russia’s cooperation with UN sanctions on Iran and satisfactory “Russian liability protections for US civil nuclear industries.”

HR 6574 also changes the procedure for Congressional consideration of future 123 agreements. Under current regulations, Congress has 90 days of continuous session to review 123 agreements, after which they automatically go into effect (although Congress may block them with a resolution of disapproval during that time frame). Under the new proposal, future 123 agreements would have to be explicitly approved by a joint resolution of Congress in order to go into effect.

Committee members offered no amendments to the bill.

President Bush originally submitted the US-Russia 123 agreement to Congress on May 13 but the current session will expire before the required 90-day review period has elapsed. Because Congress will not have the full review time, congressional inaction in this session would kill the agreement and necessitate its re-submission to Congress in the next session.

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) emphasized the need for Congress to take action on the 123 agreement in this session, despite the allotted review period falling short of the 90-day requirement. In his view, Congress should have to actively approve these deals, as the new regulations in HR 6574 would require, because the issue is too important to leave to the “vagaries of the legislative calendar.”

Both the Bush administration and the State Department have heavily endorsed the 123 agreement as an incentive for Russia to fully participate in international efforts to pressure Iran. Nonetheless, it has met with opposition from some Members of Congress concerned about providing this incentive before verifying that Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation has ended.

According to committee members, H.R. 6574 provides a safe and thorough compromise that reconciles diverging opinions by setting conditions on the agreement’s implementation. During the markup, Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the bill’s original co-sponsor, applauded the bill as “bipartisan” legislation that “balances competing interests.”

The bill was voted out of committee by voice vote and is expected to be considered by the full House before Congress adjourns on September 26.

Posted By Caroline Tarpey

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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