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Congress is seeking to boost the U.S. military presence in the Gulf region in order to deter Iran from taking hostile military action and ensure that U.S. allies are in a position to defend themselves should Tehran become hostile.
As Iran continues a massive military build-up in the region, Congress is seeking to position the U.S. military to respond to Tehran’s continued threats against America and its allies.
The military order to deter Iran was included in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a sprawling yearly funding bill that allocates money to defense priorities.
The measure is just one of several Iran-focused amendments in the NDAA that seek to prevent a nuclear Iran and mandate that the Obama administration provide more transparency over its dealings with Tehran.
Lawmakers say it is critical for the United States to “maintain a robust forward presence and posture” in the Arabian Gulf region “in order to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran” from taking aggressive steps, according to the measure.
The measure also would order U.S. forces to increase security cooperation with Gulf countries and Israel to ensure these countries are prepared for a potential strike by the Iranians.
The enhanced cooperation would include: Moving funding of “key strategic bases” in the Arabian Gulf into the Defense Department’s base budget and finalizing “status of forces and defense agreements” with Gulf countries.
These agreements would help “support the defense of the Arabian Gulf,” according to the bill.
Congress is additionally seeking to wrest control of future agreements with Iran away from the Obama administration, which has all but cut Congress out of the negotiating process and ignored calls for greater transparency.
The NDAA would mandate that “any comprehensive agreement with Iran regarding its nuclear program should address the possible military dimensions of such program,” according to the text.
It also would push the administration to “put pressure on Iran’s network of organizations that conduct malign activities,” including the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, which are funded and partly operated by Iran.
The measure would bar the Obama administration from signing any contracts with entities or individuals who have violated sanctions against Iran.
This regulation appears to be a response to reports by the Washington Free Beacon and others detailing a wide array of current Pentagon contractors that have been exploring business deals with Iran.
Separate measures in the NDAA would provide Congress with greater oversight over the Obama administration’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran.
Reps. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.) and Jackie Walorski (R., Ind.) authored a bill to mandate that President Barack Obama immediately report to Congress on the state of the interim nuclear accord and Iran’s nuclear program.
This White House report to Congress would have to detail Iran’s ongoing nuclear progress and assess whether it is complying with the requirements of the accord. The report also would have to detail “the overall state of the nuclear program of Iran,” according to the bill.
The bill is an attempt to force the White House into sharing information about its talks with Iran, which have remained mostly secret.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to maintain that it will not give up key nuclear technology.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) praised the Iran measures.
"AIPAC urges Congress to do its utmost to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and to help Israel acquire the means necessary for self-defense," it said in a statement.
Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, speaking at Friday prayers, said that Iran “will never give up its inalienable right” to nuclear technology, according to a report in Iran’s state-run media.
“Sanctions cannot change Iran's decision to continue its peaceful nuclear program in every aspect,” Kermani was quoted as saying.