TBR News November 25, 2013

Nov 25 2013

The Voice of the White House

          Washington, D.C. November 25, 2013: “’Spare me from living in interesting times’ said Lao Tzu. He would have been unhappy today because these are, indeed, interesting times. For many years, Israel has had a strong grip on American politicians. They used the fictive Holocaust to gain sympathy and used money and clever political knowledge to whipsaw the American organs of control into unquestioning support of their expansionist programs in the Middle East. What Israel wanted, Israel got. But like all such, they went too far, finally demanding, and then ordering, the United States to bomb their enemy, Iran, and also to carpet bomb southern Lebanon where the controlling Hezbollah was known to have large stores of very dangerous surface-to-surface missiles. The US, tired to being attacked and demonized by militant Muslim groups for their blind support of Israel, backed off the demands. And this resulted in a flood of phone calls from Tel Aviv to their embassy in Washington, demanding political pressure that would result in unquestioning obedience. Unfortunately for Israel, all of these communications, no matter how much Israel believed in their security, were being intercepted and decoded. When the results of this project reached senior government officials, to include the office of the President, there was a very clear disengagement from political cooperation. This drove the militants in Israel mad with fury but screech as they would, they only alienated American political figures even more.”


Insults fly in U.S.-Israel showdown

November 20, 2013 

by Josh Gerstein



One way to measure just how tense U.S.-Israeli relations have become: Look at how prominent proxies for both sides are duking it out in public.


By that standard, the friendship is cratering, with supporters and opponents of a White House-backed nuclear deal with Iran rhetorically at one another’s throats.


            A well-regarded Obama foreign policy surrogate with close White House ties, Colin Kahl, and the best-known media voice for pro-Israel forces in Washington, Josh Block, got into a nasty Twitter tangle over the weekend that laid bare how caustic the Iran debate has become between the two staunch allies.


“As usual, U don’t know what UR talking about & R advocating max alt[ernative] that’ll lead 2 war,” wrote Kahl, a top Pentagon official during Obama’s first term and the co-chairman of the president’s foreign policy board during his 2012 reelection campaign.


            “There you go again – typical vile smear,” replied Block, a former spokesman for the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “Hateful notion fm WH that supporters of talks 4 better terms R ‘warmongers’ & urge media,allies 2 smear critics as not acting 4 US interests.”


“Thanks Mr. Pot. Sincerely, Mr. Kettle,” Kahl countered later.


The bitter showdown occurred just outside the veil of officialdom, where diplomatic conventions and the desire to keep intact the broad bipartisan coalition supportive of Israel dictate that formal spokespeople for the White House, the Israeli government and the largest pro-Israel groups carefully measure their on-the-record comments


            The cause for the current fight: the Obama administration’s drive to strike an interim deal intended to halt and/or roll back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a limited easing of sanctions on Tehran. Despite intense Israeli objections, such a pact was almost agreed to at international talks with the Iranians a couple of weeks ago — negotiations that are set to resume on Wednesday in Geneva.


The new conflict comes in the wake of a series of pointed disagreements between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent years over issues like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the U.S. response to the Arab Spring movement.


“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “The government officials on both sides aren’t going to say they’re enraged, but they are, and their supporters will tell you that. People on the fringes in Israel are saying it, supporters here are certainly saying it and Obama supporters are saying it, but not with a swipe at Israel.”


“Both sides are fighting viciously here,” said the Brookings Institution’s Ken Pollack, a National Security Council staffer under President Bill Clinton. “That same polarization that we’ve seen with health care, immigration and gun control, we’re seeing it now with Iran.”


            Netanyahu and top U.S. officials have tried to maintain the polite diplomatic facade, but those efforts haven’t been able to mask the divide.


“This is a big issue, and people of good faith can have different opinions,” Netanyahu said Sunday on CNN. “Friends, and the best of friends, can have different opinions. We agree on a lot of things. There are some things we disagree on.”


“We always listen to the concerns of our Israeli friends, particularly on issues related to the Iranian nuclear program,” U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told Israel’s Channel 2 television. “There are some tactical differences. … Our view is even when we have some differences that are aired publicly that the fundamental goals remain the same.”


Despite the talk of agreement on broad goals, it’s evident that there’s now a wide U.S.-Israel gulf over potentially crucial strategy toward Iran.


            Netanyahu’s denunciation of the proposed interim agreement with Iran as the “deal of the century” for that country and a “grievous historic error” effectively painted Obama in an unflattering light, as either a rube too naive to understand Iran’s intentions or insufficiently committed to Israel’s security.


That rhetoric angered White House officials, who believe the Israeli leader was distorting the provisions of the proposed agreement.


“We have been very firm with the Iranians on what we expect,” Obama said Tuesday at a Wall Street Journal conference in Washington. “Let’s look. Let’s test the proposition that over the next six months we can resolve this in a diplomatic fashion while maintaining the essential sanctions architecture. … I think that is a test that is worth conducting.”


For its part, the White House has incensed advocates for Israel by portraying war as the likely, certain — or perhaps, for some, desired — alternative to the Geneva talks.


            “The American people do not want a march to war,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week. “And it is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options then do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?”


Kahl’s tweet, suggesting that rejection of an interim deal will lead inexorably to war, clearly touched the same nerve.


“There is something deeply disturbing about the charges being leveled by officials and journalists that people critical of the administration’s approach or terms of the Iran negotiations is a warmonger, anti-diplomacy or isn’t acting because they believe it to be in America’s interest, but because they have some ulterior motive,” said Block, now CEO of the Israel Project.


“A deal with Iran that reserves financial relief in return for a halt to enrichment and a dismantling of its nuclear infrastructure is the kind of deal American diplomats should be seeking precisely because it is smart diplomacy, and because it is is the surest way to peaceably stop Iran from being able to build a nuclear weapon,” he added.


Kahl, senior fellow at the Center for New American Security, declined an interview request.


On Tuesday, Carney seemed to soften his previous “march to war” statement, without completely omitting that specter.


“The president is determined to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and firmly believes that it would be preferable to do so peacefully, therefore he has a responsibility to pursue current negotiations before turning to other alternatives, including military options,” the press secretary said.


            Some analysts say the rhetoric on both sides has become overheated.


“It is incorrect and unhelpful to liken the president to Neville Chamberlain or to insist that his opponents are nothing but warmongers,” Pollack said. “Most of the people on both sides simply have different ideas about what constitutes a good deal and how best to get it, but the over-the-top rhetoric threatens to prevent us from doing either.”


The heated exchanges between pro-Israel forces and the White House have also caused tensions within some advocacy groups, particularly for those with political or professional ties to Obama’s team.


After Carney’s “march to war” comments last week, the pro-sanctions group United Against Nuclear Iran issued a statement slamming “the White House’s false choice between the P5+1’s interim deal and war.”


“The Obama administration engaged in a coordinated pressure campaign that included the White House press secretary irresponsibly accusing Congress of a ‘march to war.’ In response, a strong, bipartisan consensus has emerged, rejecting as false the choice of the administration’s preferred deal on one hand and a ‘march to war’ on the other,” said UANI CEO Mark Wallace, an ambassador under President George W. Bush.


The statement was surprisingly strident given the fact that UANI bills itself as bipartisan and its leadership has included prominent former Democratic officials such as Clinton-era Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross. The group’s president, Gary Samore, was the Obama White House’s point man on nonproliferation until earlier this year.


In an interview, Samore declined to discuss the statement slamming the White House he recently served, but he said the strategy his former colleagues are pursuing is broadly consistent with what he advocated while at the National Security Council.


“During the four years I was doing Iran negotiations, Israel’s position was that any proposal the U.S. put forward was giving away too much without Iran doing enough in return,” Samore said. “Step-by-step has always been a U.S. view. …There’s just a fundamental disagreement between Netanyahu and Obama over how to conduct these negotiations.”


Indeed, while Netanyahu has railed against aspects of the proposed interim deal, he conceded over the weekend that he would not favor any short-term deal that doesn’t definitively end Iran’s nuclear weapons potential.


“I don’t advocate partial deals. I think partial deals are bad deals,” the Israeli prime minister told CNN. “If you want to do a partial deal, then decide what the final deal is, and then do one step.”


Samore signaled a different viewpoint, closer to the White House’s.


“The choice is not between an interim deal and a comprehensive deal. The choice is between no deal and an interim deal,” he said. “The White House, if they could get a comprehensive deal, would. It’s not because they haven’t tried. It’s because it’s not available.”


White House allies also accuse the pro-Israel camp of advancing fantastic claims, such as a persistent, fevered rumor that Obama senior adviser and longtime friend Valerie Jarrett is overseeing secret, back-channel talks with the Iranians.


The talk of Jarrett’s sub rosa role surfaced in a fresh report last week on Israeli television, prompting the White House to issue an on-the-record denial Saturday.


“Those rumors are absolutely, 100 percent false,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.


Samore agreed that U.S.-Israel tensions are at a high point, but warned they could grow even worse.


“It’s pretty extraordinary,” Samore said. “I can’t remember anything like it in my career in Washington, when there has been such an open split between the U.S. and Israel.”


If the U.S. and its partners reach an interim nuclear deal with Iran, Samore said, Netanyahu will have to decide whether he wants to try to torpedo it by promoting new sanctions legislation or other measures that could nullify the pact. And while some in Netanyahu’s circle are reportedly beginning to recognize that an interim deal is all but inevitable, the prime minister himself has not yet let up publicly on his demand for complete capitulation by the Iranians.


It also means some thought has to be given to how to move ahead with U.S.-Israeli relations, but that’s going to be difficult. The relationship between the two leaders may never be the same, Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote in POLITICO Magazine this week.


            “No kiss-and-make-up effort can erase the scars that will be left behind,” Satloff said.


Exclusive: GOP senator unloads in private call

In private call, Mark Kirk personally attacks Obama officials and U.S. diplomats willing to halt new Iran sanctions

November 21, 2013

by Eli Clifton and Ali Gharib


            During an invitation-only phone briefing for supporters, one of the Senate’s top Iran hawks relished his battle with the Obama administration over the imposition of more sanctions against Iran amid the latest round of diplomatic negotiations underway in Geneva. During the call, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., reserved special attacks for Secretary of State John Kerry and lead U.S. negotiator Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.


“It’s the reason why I ran for the Senate, [it] is all wrapped up in this battle. I am totally dedicated to the survival of the state of Israel in the 21st century,” said Kirk, whose office framed the call as an update on Iran’s nuclear program and Kirk’s efforts to pass additional sanctions. “This has been very much a one-senator show, unfortunately,” he said of his confrontational, public approach.


Kirk is leading the Republican effort to introduce new sanctions in the Senate. Along with six co-sponsors, Kirk on Tuesday announced his intention to introduce amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that budgets for the military, that would increase sanctions on Iran and impose restrictions on any possible interim nuclear deal with Iran. The effort is currently being held up by the upper chamber’s Democratic leadership.


The 28-minute phone call with Kirk, which occurred on Monday afternoon, was by invitation only, but Salon reporters obtained an invitation and RSVPed by name to Kirk for Senate finance director Barret Kedzior.


On the call, Kirk gave a frank account of his cooperation with the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee to ram new sanctions through the Senate. He delivered unusually strident attacks against top U.S. diplomats on the call, citing their main objective in talks as “desperately want(ing) a New York Times article saying how great they are.” Kirk also vowed to supporters to pursue an individual line of communication with international nuclear inspectors working on Iran to verify that Iran would keep to any agreement it struck with world powers in Geneva.


            A spokesperson for Kirk, when asked about the senator’s outspoken criticism of U.S. diplomats, responded, “It is no secret that Sen. Kirk believes the administration’s offer to give $20 billion in sanctions relief to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism while allowing Iran to advance its nuclear program will make war in the Middle East more likely, not less.”


The Illinois senator was unsure whether he would succeed in ramming through new sanctions. He said Majority Leader Harry Reid, whose procedural powers have reportedly held up the amendment, was sending mixed signals to the Senate Banking Committee, “which is always where AIPAC wanted this legislation written because it has such a potential for bipartisan support in the Senate Banking Committee” — one of Kirk’s assignments.


“Plan B is marking up in the banking committee with something that [AIPAC chief] Howard Kohr and AIPAC have gotten us floor time from Harry to do an amendment to the upcoming NDAA whose debate is coming up as early as this week,” Kirk told his supporters on Monday, apparently not anticipating Reid’s block. (Neither AIPAC nor Reid’s office responded to requests for comment. Reid announced today he supports passing new sanctions after the Thanksgiving recess.)


Not one to shy away from harsh criticism of the U.S.’s top diplomats and negotiating team, Kirk’s attack offered unusually personal attacks against the Obama administration officials who delivered a classified briefing to senators last week asking that they delay the latest sanctions push.


“If you see the administration’s negotiating team lined up in these classified briefings, not one of them speaks a word of Farsi or brings any expertise on Iran to the table,” he said. “If I was going to run a Democratic primary I would definitely hire our current negotiating team,” Kirk said. “And that would be Kerry and Wendy and the president’s sole qualification for getting on this team is whether you can be a reliable partisan or not,” he added, referring to Secretary of State Kerry and Under Secretary of State Sherman (by her first name).


Kirk raised an issue he’d brought up in public remarks after the briefing — his admonishment of administration officials for telling him, according to Kirk’s account, to discount Israeli officials’ assessments of the Iran deal being negotiated in Geneva — but gave a richer level of detail.


“Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer gave me the collective estimate of Israeli intelligence as to where the Iranians are and Wendy Sherman said, ‘Don’t look at that. Israeli intelligence is not correct,’” Kirk recounted to his supporters. “So Wendy Sherman would tell me not to believe Israel’s intelligence service and I took her on pretty strongly. The message that I gave to her was, ‘If you tell the American people that Israeli intelligence is bad, that’s not gonna be a dog that will hunt very well.’”


The Israeli embassy did not respond to calls for comment about their alleged briefing of Kirk.


Israeli officials have been predicting an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon since the early 1990s. In Israel’s recent public campaign against the deal being negotiated in Geneva, Israeli officials have been unable to agree on just how much sanctions relief is on offer to the Iranians; the Obama administration, for its part, has called all the Israeli numbers “inaccurate, exaggerated, and not based in reality.”


Kirk offered guarded praise for Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the Democrats’ leading sanctions hawk and a fellow member of the Senate Banking Committee, because of his tough questioning of Obama administration officials.


“Bob Menendez has been very good in these classified briefings. He has been the only Democrat who takes the administration on pretty calmly and pretty forcefully,” Kirk said. “Always see Bob Menendez as an ally of the pro-Israel community because of what he does in private.”


“In public,” Kirk added, damning the pro-Israel stalwart with faint praise, “I’d say he’s pretty good.”


Kirk also described to his supporters an arrangement he made with a prominent Washington nuclear expert to establish direct contact with an international nuclear inspector working on Iran.


“I spent an hour and a half meeting with David Albright, the best analyst,” Kirk said. “David has put me in touch with one of the inspectors, and once I talk to this guy I think I’m going to get a pretty disheartening picture about the fantastic regime of inspection that Kerry keeps selling us on. I’ll call the guy, who is in the U.K. right now, to ask him, ‘What is your day like and where have you actually been?’” (Albright declined to comment for this story. A spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog conducting inspections in Iran, said, “I don’t think we would have any comment on that.”)


Despite the cautious praise for Menendez, Kirk presented himself to supporters as the lone voice sticking up to the Obama administration in classified briefings.


“Now I know exactly what Galileo felt like when he was dragged before the papal court,” Kirk said.


But Galileo caved under pressure, and disavowed his scientific work. Kirk seems unlikely to give up his hard line on Iran.



Iran seals nuclear deal with west in return for sanctions relief

Barack Obama hails historic accord as first step towards resolution of decade-old impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme

November 24, 2013

by Julian Borger in Geneva and Saeed Kamali Dehghan



          Iran has struck a historic agreement with the US and five other world powers, accepting strict constraints on its nuclear programme for the first time in a decade in exchange for partial relief from sanctions.

            The deal, signed at 4.30am on Sunday morning, marks arguably the most significant foreign policy achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, amounting to the most significant agreement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The move is intended as the first step in a six-month process aimed at a permanent resolution to the decade-old global impasse over Iran’s nuclear programme, and heading off the threat of a new war in the Middle East.

“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” President Obama said in an address from the White House. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear programme, and key parts of the programme will be rolled back.”

The Geneva deal releases just over $4bn in Iranian oil sales revenue from frozen accounts, and suspends restrictions on the country’s trade in gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts.

In return, Iran undertakes to restrict its nuclear activities. Over the next six months it has agreed to:

• stop enriching uranium above 5%, reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium or convert it to oxide, which makes it harder to enrich further. The medium-enriched uranium, in its hexafluoride gas form, is relatively easy to turn into weapons-grade material, so it is a major proliferation concern.

• not to increase its stockpile of low-enrichment uranium.

            • freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.

• not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.

• accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities.

The six-month life of the Geneva deal is intended to be used to negotiate a comprehensive and permanent settlement that would allow Iran to pursue a peaceful programme, almost certainly including enrichment, but under long-term limits and intrusive monitoring, that would reassure the world that any parallel covert programme would be spotted and stopped well before Iran could make a bomb.

That agreement would lead to the lifting of the main sanctions on oil and banking that have all but crippled the Iranian economy, and the eventual normalisation of relations between Iran and the US for the first time since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran’s Gulf Arab adversaries, nervous of the rehabilitation of their long-standing regional rival, were tight-lipped about the agreement. Not so Israel, which warned that the agreement had made the world more dangerous.

“Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapon,” the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told a weekly cabinet meeting.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, spent much of the three rounds of negotiations since September, closeted together in intense discussions, a dramatic break from the previous 34 years when there was barely any official contact between the two countries.

“This is only a first step,” Zarif told a news conference. “We need to start moving in the direction of restoring confidence, a direction in which we have managed to move against in the past.”

Sunday morning’s deal was agreed after a diplomatic marathon of three intensive rounds, culminating in a late-night session in the conference rooms of a five-star hotel in Geneva, chaired by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, a former Labour peer and CND official, for whom the deal represents a personal triumph.

Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, and their German, Russian and Chinese counterparts, Guido Westerwelle, Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi, also took part in a six-nation group mandated by the UN security council to handle the nuclear negotiations since 2006. Some of the complications involved in coming to a deal stemmed from the need to keep the six powers together.

However, the key overnight sessions that clinched the deal involved Kerry, Zarif and Ashton alone.

“This deal actually rolls back the programme from where it is today,” Kerry said. However, he added: “I will not stand here in some triumphal moment and claim that this is an end in itself.”

The bigger task, he said, was to go forward and negotiate a comprehensive deal.

The difficulties facing the negotiators in the coming months were highlighted by the different interpretations Kerry and Zarif took on the fiercely disputed issue of whether the deal represented a recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium in principle. Zarif was insistent that it did because it was based on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which guarantees the right to a peaceful nuclear programme. Kerry said that neither the NPT nor Sunday’s deal specifies a right to enrichment. That, he said, was a matter for negotiation in the coming six months.

News of the deal united Iranians from across the political spectrum in celebration, reflecting widespread hope that it would reduce the threat of war and ease punishing sanctions. Hundreds of thousands of people stayed up through the night to follow the minute-by-minute coverage of negotiations on satellite television, Facebook and Twitter.

The first announcement that a deal had been reached, by Ashton’s spokesman Michael Mann, and the confirmation by Zarif, were both made on Twitter – a first for a major global accord.

            “Day five, 3am, it’s white smoke,” tweeted the deputy Iranian foreign minister, Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, referring to the terminology used in Vatican for the announcement of a new pope.


Israel condemns Iran nuclear deal as ‘historic mistake

‘Binyamin Netanyahu risks further isolation from key western allies, saying Israel will not bound by Geneva accord

November 24, 2013

by Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem


          Israel swiftly condemned the deal struck in Geneva, with the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, calling it a “historic mistake” and warning that his country would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

            Speaking to ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said: “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world … Israel is not bound by this agreement.

            “The Iranian regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and Israel has the right and the obligation to defend itself, by itself, against any threat. As prime minister of Israel, I would like to make it clear: Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”

            Netanyahu, who has staked his premiership on the need to defend Israel against the Iranian threat by military action if necessary, faces further isolation from key allies in the west who brokered and endorsed the diplomatic accord with Tehran. The issue has severely strained relations between Israel and the US over recent weeks.

            But the prospect of diplomatic alienation did not stop a string of minsters taking to the airwaves to denounce the deal. “If in another five or six years a nuclear suitcase explodes in New York or Madrid, it will be because of the agreement that was signed this morning,” the economy minister, Naftali Bennett, said. “We woke up this morning to a reality in which a bad, a very bad agreement was signed in Geneva.”

            The foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said Israel needed to reassess its position in the light of the deal. He said: “A situation assessment is needed. Apparently, we are going to have to make decisions, when all the options are on the table.”

            He added: “Obviously when you look at the smiles of the Iranians over there in Geneva, you realise that this is the Iranians’ greatest victory, maybe since the Khomeini revolution, and it doesn’t really change the situation within Iran.”

            But some analysts suggested that Israel’s options were limited by the west’s consensus on the need for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear threat.

            “International legitimacy for a unilateral Israeli attack is reduced significantly. The international community endorses this deal, and so Israel will find it really hard to use military power,” said Yoel Guzansky, former head of the Iran desk in the prime minister’s office and now a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. The deal, he said, was “not perfect, not the deal we prayed for, but it’s not as bad as some as saying this morning”.

            The justice minister, Tzipi Livni, suggested Israel needed to repair its relations with the US and seek tactical alliances elsewhere on Iran.

            “After the signing of this agreement, Israel has to look ahead: to act in close co-operation with the United States, to strengthen that strategic alliance, and to create a political front with other countries as well, such as Arab countries that see a nuclear Iran as a threat,” she said


But the prospects of an alliance between Israel and the Gulf states should not be exaggerated, said Guzansky. “The Gulf states don’t like this agreement, but not necessarily for the same reasons [as Israel]. The fact is, Iran will be less isolated – this threatens the Gulf states. So there is a place for co-operation. But any suggestion that Israel could look for other allies is not serious. Israel now needs to repair the damage [with the US],” he said.

            Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli analyst, stressed the agreement was interim, but “as an interim deal, it’s a good deal. It halts the more sensitive parts of Iran’s nuclear programme. But we have to see what kind of final deal is reached.”

            He added: “The sanctions relief element of the deal is so small it’s almost symbolic. Iran needs far more than that, so it will take the deal seriously and come back to the negotiating table in six months. This is a promising initial step, but there are many challenges ahead.”


Russia’s Putin Praises Iran Nuclear Deal

MOSCOW, November 24 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday praised a last-minute agreement between Iran and the six international negotiators on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.


“The agreement is a balanced list of measures and it will certainly have a positive influence on the development of the international situation, especially in the Middle Eastern region,” Putin said in a statement as quoted by the Kremlin.


Iran and the P5+1 group (permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) clinched the deal Sunday morning following four days of talks, apparently resolving the decade-long dispute over the issue.


A formal signing ceremony was held in the UN building in Geneva on Sunday involving representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States, led by the coordinator for the group, European Commission foreign relations head Catherine Ashton.


The core of the deal is a freeze on Iran’s nuclear program, in particular work on enrichment facilities, in exchange for a relaxation of the economic sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.


In his statement, Putin called the deal “a breakthrough,” adding however that it was only the first step on a long road.


“Jointly with partners, we are ready to continue patiently seeking a mutually acceptable, wider comprehensive solution to ensure Iran’s inalienable right to the development of a peaceful nuclear program under IAEA control and security of all Middle Eastern countries, including Israel,” he said.


Western countries suspect Iran of using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons capability, a claim Iran has consistently denied. Tehran claims it needs atomic technology for producing electricity, although it has some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and gas.


 Meet the Spies Doing the NSA’s Dirty Work

This obscure FBI unit does the domestic surveillance that no other intelligence agency can touch.

November 21, 2013 

by Shane Harris 

Foreign Policy


With every fresh leak, the world learns more about the U.S. National Security Agency’s massive and controversial surveillance apparatus. Lost in the commotion has been the story of the NSA’s indispensable partner in its global spying operations: an obscure, clandestine unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that, even for a surveillance agency, keeps a low profile.


When the media and members of Congress say the NSA spies on Americans, what they really mean is that the FBI helps the NSA do it, providing a technical and legal infrastructure that permits the NSA, which by law collects foreign intelligence, to operate on U.S. soil. It’s the FBI, a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency, that collects digital information from at least nine American technology companies as part of the NSA’s Prism system. It was the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon Business Network Services, one of the United States’ biggest telecom carriers for corporations, to hand over the call records of millions of its customers to the NSA.


But the FBI is no mere errand boy for the United States’ biggest intelligence agency. It carries out its own signals intelligence operations and is trying to collect huge amounts of email and Internet data from U.S. companies — an operation that the NSA once conducted, was reprimanded for, and says it abandoned.


The heart of the FBI’s signals intelligence activities is an obscure organization called the Data Intercept Technology Unit, or DITU (pronounced DEE-too). The handful of news articles that mentioned it prior to revelations of NSA surveillance this summer did so mostly in passing. It has barely been discussed in congressional testimony. An NSA PowerPoint presentation given to journalists by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden hints at DITU’s pivotal role in the NSA’s Prism system — it appears as a nondescript box on a flowchart showing how the NSA “task[s]” information to be collected, which is then gathered and delivered by the DITU.


But interviews with current and former law enforcement officials, as well as technology industry representatives, reveal that the unit is the FBI’s equivalent of the National Security Agency and the primary liaison between the spy agency and many of America’s most important technology companies, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple.


The DITU is located in a sprawling compound at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, home of the FBI’s training academy and the bureau’s Operational Technology Division, which runs all the FBI’s technical intelligence collection, processing, and reporting. Its motto: “Vigilance Through Technology.” The DITU is responsible for intercepting telephone calls and emails of terrorists and foreign intelligence targets inside the United States. According to a senior Justice Department official, the NSA could not do its job without the DITU’s help. The unit works closely with the “big three” U.S. telecommunications companies — AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint — to ensure its ability to intercept the telephone and Internet communications of its domestic targets, as well as the NSA’s ability to intercept electronic communications transiting through the United States on fiber-optic cables.


For Prism, the DITU maintains the surveillance equipment that captures what the NSA wants from U.S. technology companies, including archived emails, chat-room sessions, social media posts, and Internet phone calls. The unit then transmits that information to the NSA, where it’s routed into other parts of the agency for analysis and used in reports.


After Prism was disclosed in the Washington Post and the Guardian, some technology company executives claimed they knew nothing about a collection program run by the NSA. And that may have been true. The companies would likely have interacted only with officials from the DITU and others in the FBI and the Justice Department, said sources who have worked with the unit to implement surveillance orders.


“The DITU is the main interface with providers on the national security side,” said a technology industry representative who has worked with the unit on many occasions. It ensures that phone companies as well as Internet service and email providers are complying with surveillance law and delivering the information that the government has demanded and in the format that it wants. And if companies aren’t complying or are experiencing technical difficulties, they can expect a visit from the DITU’s technical experts to address the problem.


* * *


Recently, the DITU has helped construct data-filtering software that the FBI wants telecom carriers and Internet service providers to install on their networks so that the government can collect large volumes of data about emails and Internet traffic.


The software, known as a port reader, makes copies of emails as they flow through a network. Then, in practically an instant, the port reader dissects them, removing only the metadata that has been approved by a court.


The FBI has built metadata collection systems before. In the late 1990s, it deployed the Carnivore system, which the DITU helped manage, to pull header information out of emails. But the FBI today is after much more than just traditional metadata — who sent a message and who received it. The FBI wants as many as 13 individual fields of information, according to the industry representative. The data include the route a message took over a network, Internet protocol addresses, and port numbers, which are used to handle different kinds of incoming and outgoing communications. Those last two pieces of information can reveal where a computer is physically located — perhaps along with its user — as well as what types of applications and operating system it’s running. That information could be useful for government hackers who want to install spyware on a suspect’s computer — a secret task that the DITU also helps carry out.


The DITU devised the port reader after law enforcement officials complained that they weren’t getting enough information from emails and Internet traffic. The FBI has argued that under the Patriot Act, it has the authority to capture metadata and doesn’t need a warrant to get them. Some federal prosecutors have gone to court to compel port reader adoption, the industry representative said. If a company failed to comply with a court order, it could be held in contempt.


The FBI’s pursuit of Internet metadata bears striking similarities to the NSA’s efforts to obtain the same information. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the agency began collecting the information under a secret order signed by President George W. Bush. Documents that were declassified Nov. 18 by Barack Obama’s administration show that the agency ran afoul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court after it discovered that the NSA was collecting more metadata than the court had allowed. The NSA abandoned the Internet metadata collection program in 2011, according to administration officials.


But the FBI has been moving ahead with its own efforts, collecting more metadata than it has in the past. It’s not clear how many companies have installed the port reader, but at least two firms are pushing back, arguing that because it captures an entire email, including content, the government needs a warrant to get the information. The government counters that the emails are only copied for a fraction of a second and that no content is passed along to the government, only metadata. The port reader is designed also to collect information about the size of communications packets and traffic flows, which can help analysts better understand how communications are moving on a network. It’s unclear whether this data is considered metadata or content; it appears to fall within a legal gray zone, experts said.


* * *


The DITU also runs a bespoke surveillance service, devising or building technology capable of intercepting information when the companies can’t do it themselves. In the early days of social media, when companies like LinkedIn and Facebook were starting out, the unit worked with companies on a technical solution for capturing information about a specific target without also capturing information related to other people to whom the target was connected, such as comments on posts, shared photographs, and personal data from other people’s profiles, according to a technology expert who was involved in the negotiations.


The technicians and engineers who work at the DITU have to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in technology so that the government doesn’t find itself unable to tap into a new system. Many DITU employees used to work for the telecom companies that have to implement government surveillance orders, according to the industry representative. “There are a lot of people with inside knowledge about how telecommunications work. It’s probably more intellectual property than the carriers are comfortable with the FBI knowing.”


The DITU has also intervened to ensure that the government maintains uninterrupted access to the latest commercial technology. According to the Guardian, the unit worked with Microsoft to “understand” potential obstacles to surveillance in a new feature of Outlook.com that let users create email aliases. At the time, the NSA wanted to make sure that it could circumvent Microsoft’s encryption and maintain access to Outlook messages. In a statement to the Guardian, Microsoft said, “When we upgrade or update products we aren’t absolved from the need to comply with existing or future lawful demands.” It’s the DITU’s job to help keep companies in compliance. In other instances, the unit will go to companies that manufacture surveillance software and ask them to build in particular capabilities, the industry representative said.


The DITU falls under the FBI’s Operational Technology Division, home to agents, engineers, electronic technicians, computer forensics examiners, and analysts who “support our most significant investigations and national security operations with advanced electronic surveillance, digital forensics, technical surveillance, tactical operations, and communications capabilities,” according to the FBI’s website. Among its publicly disclosed capabilities are surveillance of “wireline, wireless, and data network communication technologies”; collection of digital evidence from computers, including audio files, video, and images; “counter-encryption” support to help break codes; and operation of what the FBI claims is “the largest fixed land mobile radio system in the U.S.”


The Operational Technology Division also specializes in so-called black-bag jobs to install surveillance equipment, as well as computer hacking, referred to on the website as “covert entry/search capability,” which is carried out under law enforcement and intelligence warrants.


The tech experts at Quantico are the FBI’s silent cybersleuths. “While [the division’s] work doesn’t typically make the news, the fruits of its labor are evident in the busted child pornography ring, the exposed computer hacker, the prevented bombing, the averted terrorist plot, and the prosecuted corrupt official,” according to the website.


According to former law enforcement officials and technology industry experts, the DITU is among the most secretive and sophisticated outfits at Quantico. The FBI declined Foreign Policy’s request for an interview about the unit. But in a written statement, an FBI spokesperson said it “plays a key role in providing technical expertise, services, policy guidance, and support to the FBI and the intelligence community in collecting evidence and intelligence through the use of lawfully authorized electronic surveillance.”


In addition to Carnivore, the DITU helped develop early FBI Internet surveillance tools with names like CoolMiner, Packeteer, and Phiple Troenix. One former law enforcement official said the DITU helped build the FBI’s Magic Lantern keystroke logging system, a device that could be implanted on a computer and clandestinely record what its user typed. The system was devised to spy on criminals who had encrypted their communications. It was part of a broader surveillance program known as Cyber Knight.


In 2007, Wired reported that the FBI had built another piece of surveillance malware to track the source of a bomb threat against a Washington state high school. Called a “computer and Internet protocol address verifier,” it was able to collect details like IP addresses, a list of programs running on an infected computer, the operating system it was using, the last web address visited, and the logged-in user name. The malware was handled by the FBI’s Cryptologic and Electronic Analysis Unit, located next door to the DITU’s facilities at Quantico. Wired reported that information collected by the malware from its host was sent via the Internet to Quantico.


The DITU has also deployed what the former law enforcement official described as “beacons,” which can be implanted in emails and, when opened on a target’s computer, can record the target’s IP address. The former official said the beacons were first deployed to track down kidnappers.


* * *


Lately, one of the DITU’s most important jobs has been to keep track of surveillance operations, particularly as part of the NSA’s Prism system, to ensure that companies are producing the information that the spy agency wants and that the government has been authorized to obtain.


The NSA is the most frequent requester of the DITU’s services, sources said. There is a direct fiber-optic connection between Quantico and the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland; data can be moved there instantly. From the companies’ perspective, it doesn’t much matter where the information ends up, so long as the government shows up with a lawful order to get it.


“The fact that either the targets are coming from the NSA or the output goes to the NSA doesn’t matter to us. We’re being compelled. We’re not going to do any more than we have to,” said one industry representative.


But having the DITU act as a conduit provides a useful public relations benefit: Technology companies can claim — correctly — that they do not provide any information about their customers directly to the NSA, because they give it to the DITU, which in turn passes it to the NSA.


But in the government’s response to the controversy that has erupted over government surveillance programs, FBI officials have been conspicuously absent. Robert Mueller, who stepped down as the FBI’s director in September, testified before Congress about disclosed surveillance only twice, and that was in June, before many of the NSA documents that Snowden leaked had been revealed in the media. On Nov. 14, James Comey gave his first congressional testimony as the FBI’s new director, and he was not asked about the FBI’s involvement in surveillance operations that have been attributed to the NSA. Attorney General Eric Holder has made few public comments about surveillance. (His deputy has testified several times.)


The former law enforcement official said Holder and Mueller should have offered testimony and explained how the FBI works with the NSA. He was concerned by reports that the NSA had not been adhering to its own minimization procedures, which the Justice Department and the FBI review and vouch for when submitting requests to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.


“Where they hadn’t done what was represented to the court, that’s unforgivable. That’s where I got sick to my stomach,” the former law enforcement official said. “The government’s position is, we go to the court, apply the law — it’s all approved. That makes for a good story until you find out what was approved wasn’t actually what was done.”


Ukraine Blames I.M.F. for Halt to Agreements With Europe

November 22, 2013

by David M. Herszenhorn  

New York Times


MOSCOW — Prime Minister Mykola Azarov of Ukraine told enraged opposition lawmakers on Friday that his government’s decision to walk away from far-reaching political and trade agreements with the European Union was based on fiscal imperatives, and ultimately prompted by the International Monetary Fund’s overly harsh terms for an aid package.


The accords with Europe were due to be signed next week at a major conference in Vilnius, Lithuania. Opposition leaders furious over the decision called for the resignation of the Ukrainian government, for the impeachment of President Viktor F. Yanukovich and for mass protests across the country. Many also blamed Russia for pressuring Ukraine to scuttle the deals.


Protests against the government’s decision were held in several Ukrainian cities, including Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine and a hotbed of anti-Yanukovich sentiment, where more than 5,000 people joined a rally in the main square, led by Mayor Andriy Sadovy. Kiev, the capital, was pulsing with emotion that officials and commentators said they had not seen since the Orange Revolution of 2004.


On Friday evening, about 1,000 people protested in the rain in Independence Square, the revolution’s central gathering point, waving European Union flags and chanting, “Ukraine is Europe!” A bigger rally was set for Sunday. The jailed former prime minister, Yulia V. Tymoshenko, issued a statement urging people “to react to this as they would to a coup d’état” and take to the streets.


The Ukrainian government on Thursday said it was suspending plans to complete the agreements and would instead pursue improved economic relations with a competing trade bloc led by Russia. The decision upends the European Union’s top foreign policy initiative, an effort to draw in former Soviet republics and promote Western-style political and economic overhauls.


Ukraine is facing severe economic problems and is expected to soon need financial assistance of $15 billion or more. On Friday in Parliament, where Mr. Azarov appeared with other government ministers, he said that the conditions for aid from the West were too stiff and that Ukraine needed to take steps to improve its economic relationship with Russia.


“The I.M.F. position presented in the letter dated Nov. 20 was the last straw,” Mr. Azarov said. “This decision is hard, but it’s the only one possible in the economic situation in Ukraine.”


His comments drew a roar of jeers and denunciations from opposing lawmakers, who also threw sheaves of papers at him.


While Mr. Azarov sought to pin responsibility on the I.M.F., other officials said the decision to back away from the agreements was the result of fierce pressure by Russia, including threats of trade embargoes and other punitive steps that would have devastated the Ukrainian economy.


Jovita Neliupsiene, the chief foreign policy adviser to the Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, said on Friday that Mr. Yanukovich had told her boss in a telephone conversation on Wednesday that he could not sign the agreements with Europe because of potential economic damage to eastern Ukraine.


Mr. Yanukovich’s base of political support is in the mostly Russian-speaking southern and eastern parts of the country, which are also home to a large portion of Ukrainian industry.


The phone conversation between the two presidents was first reported by the Baltic News Service, a news agency based in Vilnius.


In Washington, the White House said that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had called Mr. Yanukovich to express disappointment over the decision to “delay preparations for signature” of the European Union accords.


The Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey in St. Petersburg, denied any strong-arming. He said Russia had merely informed Ukraine that if it signed a free trade deal with Europe, Russia would take steps to protect its businesses from an influx of cheap European goods through Ukraine by imposing new trade restrictions.


Mr. Putin said it was the Europeans who were trying to pressure Ukraine and refusing to accept its decision to delay the accords. “This is pressure, this is blackmail,” Mr. Putin said, according to a Kremlin transcript of his remarks.


Asked about the phone call between Mr. Yanukovich and Ms. Grybauskaite, Mr. Putin used the moment to take a jab at the United States over its surveillance programs. “I don’t know what the Ukrainian and Lithuanian presidents discussed — you could maybe ask our American friends,” he said. “They will tell you.”


Warrantless Surveillance Continues to Cause Fallout

November 20, 2013

by Charlie Savage

New York Times


WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has notified a Somali-American man who was convicted this year of trying to detonate a bomb in Portland, Ore., that his trial included evidence derived from warrantless wiretapping, a move that could disrupt plans to sentence him next month.


Three United States senators also sent a letter on Tuesday to Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. accusing the government of misrepresenting surveillance policy to the Supreme Court in a case last year.


Together the developments show that fallout continues over the Justice Department’s handling of warrantless surveillance issues in court, which has come under scrutiny since leaks from Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor. The Justice Department did not comment on the letter.


Federal prosecutors filed the notice to the defendant in the Portland case, Mohamed Mohamud, late Monday. It was the second time that the Justice Department had made such a disclosure, after a similar move last month in a Colorado case that had not gone to trial. Mr. Mohamud was convicted of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction at a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in 2010.


The notices could lead to a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping, approved by Congress in the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, is constitutional. The Supreme Court rejected a challenge this year by Amnesty International on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not prove that their communications had been intercepted under the law.


The Justice Department had urged the Supreme Court to reject that case. It said the law would still be subject to judicial review, because criminal defendants facing evidence derived from warrantless surveillance would be notified of that fact and have standing to challenge it.


But it has since emerged that it was not the practice of National Security Division prosecutors to tell defendants when warrantless wiretapping had led to evidence in a case, something Mr. Verrilli had not known at the time of the Supreme Court case, even though his briefs and arguments assuring the justices otherwise had been vetted by the division. After the discrepancy came to light, Mr. Verrilli fought an internal battle to bring department policy in line with what he had told the court, ultimately prevailing.


But the senators — Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico — raised a new issue in their letter: A government brief, a statement by Mr. Verrilli during oral arguments and a line in the majority’s ruling appeared to rely on the premise that Americans had to be in direct contact with someone abroad who had been targeted for surveillance for the N.S.A. to collect their communications without a warrant.


However, it surfaced in August that the N.S.A. was also systematically scanning Americans’ cross-border emails without warrants and saving copies of any that contained discussion of a surveillance target.


Thus, the senators wrote, Amnesty International “would not necessarily have had to have communicated” with a target for its emails to be collected.













































The Arctic problems











            The Arctic1 is at a strategic inflection point as its ice cap is diminishing more rapidly than projected2 and human activity, driven by economic opportunity—ranging from oil, gas, and mineral exploration to fishing, shipping, and tourism—is increasing in response to the growing accessibility. Arctic and non-Arctic nations are establishing their strategies and positions on the future of the Arctic in a variety of international forums. Taken together, these changes present a compelling opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to work collaboratively with allies and partners to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region.3


            Security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from resource extraction and trade to activities supporting safe commercial and scientific operations to national defense. Security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction. The Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions, and burden-sharing in theArctic, and seek to increase opportunities with Arctic partners to enhance regional expertise andcold-weather operational experience.


            The Department will continue to train and operate routinely in the region4 as it monitors the changing environment, revisiting assessments and taking appropriate action as conditions change.


            This strategy identifies the Department’s desired end-state for the Arctic: a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. It also articulates two main supporting objectives: Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation, and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies—operating in conjunction with other nations when possible, and independently if necessary—in order to maintain stability in the region. Finally, it identifies the ways and means the Department intends to use to achieve these objectives as it implements the National  Strategy for the Arctic Region.


1The DoD strategy uses a broad definition of the Arctic, codified in 15 U.S.C. 4111, that includes all U.S. and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all U.S. territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Aleutian islands chain.


2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists in J.E. Overland and M. Wang (2013), When will the summer Arctic be nearly sea ice free?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40 doi:10.1002/grl.50316.


3This strategy is nested under National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66 / Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, Arctic Region Policy, the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. It complements DoD’s Strategy for Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (HD&DSCA).


4For additional information on the Navy’s historic involvement in the Arctic, see The Impact of Climate Change on Naval Operations in the Arctic (Center for Naval Analysis, 2009).




            U.S. national security interests in the Arctic are delineated in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, Arctic Region Policy. 5 This policy states that national security interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of the seas. Preserving freedom of the seas, which includes all of the rights, freedoms, and uses of the seas and adjacent airspace, including freedom of navigation and overflight, in the Arctic supports the nation’s ability to exercise these rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace throughout the world, including through strategic straits.


            The 2013 National Strategy on the Arctic Region frames the whole-of-government approach that provides the overarching context for the Department’s efforts. It lays out three main lines of effort in the Arctic: advance U.S. security interests; pursue responsible Arctic region stewardship; and strengthen international cooperation. The goal of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region is “an Arctic region that is stable and free of conflict, where nations act responsibly in a spirit of trust and cooperation, and where economic and energy resources are developed in a sustainable manner that also respects the fragile environment and the interests and cultures of indigenous peoples.”


            The DoD Arctic Strategy outlines how the Department will support the whole-of-government effort to promote security, stewardship, and international cooperation in the Arctic. The Department’s strategic approach to the Arctic reflects the relatively low level of military threat in a region bounded by nation States that have not only publicly committed to working within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement,6 but have also demonstrated the ability and commitment to do so. In consideration of enduring national interests in the Arctic and existing strategic guidance, the Department’s end-state for its strategic approach to the Arctic is: a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.


5 The January 2009 National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-66, dual-titled as Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-25, or NSPD-66/HSPD-25, established the policy of the United States with respect to the Arctic and outlined national security and homeland security interests in the region. Homeland security interests include preventing terrorist attacks and mitigating those criminal or hostile acts that could increase the United States’ vulnerability to terrorism in the Arctic. The Department has a role to play in responding not only to traditional (e.g., military) threats, but also to a range of other potential national security challenges (e.g., smuggling, criminal trafficking, and terrorism as the lead agency or in support of other government agencies6In the Ilulissat Declaration (May 28, 2008), all five Arctic Ocean coastal States (United States, Russian Federation, Canada, Norway, and Denmark on behalf of Greenland) committed themselves to the orderly settlement of overlapping territorial claims through the established framework of the international law as reflected in the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). The Declaration affirmedthat the legal framework provided by the LOSC is sufficient for the management of the Arctic Ocean and that there is no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern this Ocean.


6 In the Ilulissat Declaration (May 28, 2008), all five Arctic Ocean coastal States (United States, Russian Federation, Canada, Norway,and Denmark on behalf of Greenland) committed themselves to the orderly settlement of overlapping territorial claims through theestablished framework of the international law as reflected in the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). The Declaration affirmedthat the legal framework provided by the LOSC is sufficient for the management of the Arctic Ocean and that there is no need todevelop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern this Ocean.






            The Department’s two supporting objectives describe what is to be accomplished to achieve its desired end-state. These objectives are bounded by policy guidance, the changing nature of the strategic and physical environment, and the capabilities and limitations of the available instruments of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, and economic). Actions taken to achieve these objectives will be informed by the Department’s global priorities and fiscal constraints. In order to achieve its strategic endstate, the Department’s supporting objectives are:


            • Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation .7

            – Relationships with allies and partners are important enablers of cooperation in meeting security and defense commitments. These relationships also play an important role in conflict prevention, and, if prevention and deterrence fail, in coordinating an

international response to security and defense challenges. Although the Department of

State is the lead for regional diplomacy, DoD has a supporting role enhancing the

region’s capability and capacity for multilateral security collaboration, and responding to

requests for assistance from interagency and international partners both within and

outside the Arctic. This collaborative approach helps prevent conflict and provides the

stability needed to facilitate the sustainable economic development envisioned in the

National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The Department of Defense will seek out areas of

mutual interest to build strategic relationships and encourage operational-level

partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions and enhance burdensharing in the Arctic. Science and technology (S&T) can provide non-contentious

opportunities for cooperation, and DoD will coordinate research initiatives with the

Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC).


            The Department has an important role supporting other Federal departments and

agencies in safety-related missions in Alaska and in responding to requests from civil

authorities to support them with disaster relief or humanitarian assistance at home or abroad. Although the Department has seldom been tasked to execute these missions in

the Arctic, it may be asked to do more in the coming decades.

• Prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies—operating in conjunction

with other States when possible and independently if necessary—in order to maintain

stability in the region.

            – Future challenges in the Arctic may span the full range of national security interests.

These challenges and contingencies may take many forms, ranging from the need to

support other Federal departments and agencies—or another nation—in responding to a

natural or man-made disaster to responding to security concerns that may emerge in the



7 Per the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, U.S. security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, including national defense.









            The Department will pursue comprehensive engagement with allies and partners to protect the homeland and support civil authorities in preparing for increased human activity in the Arctic. Strategic partnerships are the center of gravity in ensuring a peaceful opening of the Arctic and achieving the Department’s desired end-state. Where possible, DoD will seek innovative, low-cost, smallfootprint approaches to achieve these objectives (e.g., by participating in multilateral exercises like the Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) hosted by Greenland, COLDRESPONSE hosted by Norway, and Canada’s Operation NANOOK, or through Defense Environmental International Cooperation Program-supported engagements on Arctic issues). The Department will also evolve its infrastructure and capabilities in step with the changing physical environment in order to ensure security, support safety, promote defense cooperation, and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies in the Arctic in the coming decades. The Department will accomplish its objectives through the following ways:


• Exercise sovereignty and protect the homeland;

• Engage public and private sector partners to improve domain awareness in the Arctic;

• Preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic;

• Evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing conditions;

• Support existing agreements with allies and partners while pursuing new ones to build

confidence with key regional partners;

• Provide support to civil authorities, as directed;

• Partner with other departments and agencies and nations to support human and

environmental safety; and

• Support the development of the Arctic Council and otherinternational institutions that

promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.


            The Department will apply the four guiding principles from the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region as it pursues these eight ways.9 This means DoD will work with allies, partners, and other interested parties to safeguard peace and stability. It will make decisions using the best available scientific information, and will pursue innovative arrangements as it develops the capability and capacity needed in the Arctic over time. It will also follow established Federal tribal consultation policy. These four principles will underpin all of the Department’s activities as it implements this strategy through the means described in this section.


8 The Arctic Council’s charter states, “The Arctic Council should not deal with matters related to military security.” It could be argued that search and rescue is a (human) security interest, and oil spill response is an (environmental) security interest; thus, the Council has a demonstrated ability to address a range of “soft security” issues.











Protect the Homeland and Exercise Sovereignty


            From the U.S. perspective, greater access afforded by the decreasing seasonal ice increases the Arctic’s viability as an avenue of approach to North America for those with hostile intent toward the U.S. homeland, and the Department will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent, and defeat  threats to the homeland. Additionally, DoD will continue to support the exercise of U.S. sovereignty. In the near-term10, this will require some ability to operate in the Arctic, which the Department will maintain and enhance by continuing to conduct exercises and training in the region. In the mid- to far-term, this may require developing further capabilities and capacity to protect U.S. air, land, and maritime borders in the Arctic in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. As directed by the 2011 Unified Command Plan, Commander, U.S. Northern Command (CDRUSNORTHCOM) is responsible for advocating for Arctic capabilities. In execution of this responsibility, CDRUSNORTHCOM will collaborate with relevant Combatant Commands, the Joint Staff, the Military Departments and ServicesServices, and the Defense agencies to identify and prioritize emerging Arctic capability gaps and requirements. These efforts will be informed by the most authoritative scientific information on future Arctic conditions. For purposes of mission and infrastructure vulnerability assessments and adaptation to climate change, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)) will identify projections of future conditions to be used. The Department of Defense will collaborate with theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure efficient use of resources to avoid duplication of effort in research, development, experimentation, testing, and acquisition. Forums such as the DoD-DHS Capabilities Development Working Group are among the means to facilitate this



Engage public and private sector partners to improve all domain awareness in the


            Although NSPD-66/HSPD-25 focuses on maritime domain awareness, the Department has responsibilities for awareness across all domains: air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace. Adequate domain awareness is an essential component of protecting maritime commerce, critical infrastructure, and key resources. In the near-term, the Department will work through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to maintain air tracking capabilities in the Arctic. As the maritime domain becomes increasingly accessible, the Department will seek to improve its maritime detection and tracking in coordination with DHS and other departments and agencies as well as through public/private partnerships. The Department of the Navy, in its role as DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness, will lead DoD coordination on maritime detection and tracking. Where possible, DoD will also collaborate with international partners to employ, acquire, share, or develop the means required to improve sensing, data collection and fusion, analysis, and information-sharing to enhance domain awareness appropriately in the Arctic. Monitoring regional activity and analyzing emerging trends are key to informing future investments in Arctic capabilities and ensuring they keep pace with increasing human activity in the region over time.


 9Many of DoD’s ways align with what the National Strategy for the Arctic Region terms supporting objectives to its three lines of effort, but DoD’s strategy follows the classical “ways-ends-means” construction.


10 This strategy identifies three timeframes to be used for implementation planning: the near-term (present day-2020); mid-term (2020-2030); and far-term (beyond 2030). These timeframes are approximate due to uncertainty in climate change projections.



In the near- to mid-term, the primary means of improving domain awareness will be continued use of innovative, low-cost solutions for polar Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) needs as well as enhanced international collaboration. DoD will take steps to work with other Federal departments and agencies to improve nautical charts, enhance relevant atmospheric and oceanic models, improve accuracy of estimates of ice extent and thickness, and detect and monitor climate change indicators. In particular, the Department of the Navy will work in partnership with other Federal departments and agencies (e.g., DHS, the Department of Commerce) and international partners to improve hydrographic charting and oceanographic surveys in the Arctic.


            The Department will continue to collaborate with other Federal departments and agencies and the State of Alaska to monitor and assess changes in the physical environment to inform the development of Arctic requirements and future capabilities. To that end, the Department will leverage work done by the scientific and academic communities and seek opportunities to contribute to the observation and modeling of the atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice conditions, including acoustics conditions, to enhance military environmental forecasting capabilities. These collaborations will help inform the development and design of future ice-strengthened ship designs, when required.


Preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic.


            The United States has a national interest in preserving all of the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace recognized under international law. The Department will preserve the global mobility of United States military and civilian vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic,11 including through the exercise of the Freedom of Navigation program to challenge excessive maritime claims asserted by other Arctic States when necessary. The Department will continue to support U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Lawof the Sea (hereafter referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC)) because it codifies the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace the Department seeks to preserve; provides a means for the peaceful resolution of disputes; and ensures international recognition of resources rights on the extended continental shelf.


Evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing  conditions.


            The Department will periodically re-evaluate requirements necessary to meet

national security objectives as conditions change and the Combatant Commandersidentify operational requirements for the Arctic in updates to their regional plans.Once operational requirements are defined, solutions for associated supporting infrastructure requirements should seek to leverage existing U.S. Government, commercial, and international facilities to the maximum extent possible in order to mitigate the high cost and extended timelines associated with the development of Arctic infrastructure. If no existing infrastructure is capable of sufficiently supporting the requirement, modifications to existing bases, such as the addition of a new hangar, will be made as part of the military construction or facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization processes.


Uphold existing agreements with allies and partners while building confidence with key regional partners.


            Security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction. The 2012 and 2013 Northern Chiefs

of Defense (CHoDs) meetings and the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable workshops and meetings are examples of means for promoting information-sharing and partnership-building necessary to develop cooperative approaches to common challenges. Therefore, in cooperation with the Department of State, DHS (in particular, the U.S. Coast Guard), and other relevant agencies, the Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions and burden-sharing in the Arctic. It will also seek to increase bilateral exchanges, including in science and technology, and take advantage of multilateral training opportunities with Arctic partners to enhance regional expertise and cold-weather operational experience.


Provide Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in Alaska and provide Foreign Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Disaster Relief (FHA/FDR) in other non-U.S. territorial areas of the Arctic.


            When directed by the appropriate authority, the Department will be prepared to support civil authorities in response to natural or manmade disasters, or to conduct FHA/FDR operations in cooperation with allies and partners. Partner with other agencies and nations to support human and environmental safety.


            Some of the near-term safety-related challenges include meeting international search and rescue obligations and responding to incidents such as oil spills in ice-covered waters, as reflected in the recently concluded Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and Agreement on Cooperation on

Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. The Department will leverage existing capabilities to respond to requests for support from civil authorities in coordination with other departments and agencies and nations. Where appropriate, the Department will support other departments and agencies in maintaining human health; promoting healthy, sustainable, and resilient ecosystems; and consulting and coordinating with Alaska Natives on policy and activities affecting them. Finally, the Department will continue to integrate environmental considerations into its planning and operations and to contribute to whole-of-government approaches in support of the second line of effort in the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region


Support the development of the Arctic Council and other international institutions to promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.


            The Department recognizes the value of the Arctic Council in efforts to understand the changing Arctic environment and developingcooperative approaches to regional challenges, and supports the Department of State in thecontinued development of the Council. Although the Department of State is the lead fordiplomacy, DoD has a role to play in enhancing the region’s multilateral security cooperationenvironment. Accordingly, DoD will work with allies and partners within the framework ofinternational institutions, ranging from the Arctic Council to the International MaritimeOrganization (IMO), to maintain stability and promote cooperation.


11As expressed by Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and Commander, USNORTHCOM, in a May 2008 memorandum, the United States needs assured access to support U.S. national interests in the Arctic. Although this imperative could be met by regular U.S. Government ships in open water up to the marginal ice zone, only ice-capable ships provide assured sovereign presence throughout the region and throughout the year. Assured access in areas of pack ice could also be met by other means, including submarines and aircraft.




            This strategy furthers defense objectives while positioning the United States to take advantage of opportunities in the Arctic during the coming decades in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. It also addresses some of the risks inherent in the trade-offs and tensions among U.S. interests and objectives, including:


                                                     • Projections about future access to and activity in the Arctic may be inaccurate.

                                   Significant uncertainty remains about the rate and extent of the effects of climate change, including climate variability, in the Arctic. There is also uncertainty about future economic conditions, and the pace at which human activity will increase in the region. The challenge is to balance the risk of having inadequate capabilities or insufficient capacity when required to operate in the region with the opportunity cost of making premature and/or unnecessary investments. Premature investment may reduce the availability of resources for other pressing priorities, particularly in a time of fiscal austerity.


            • Fiscal constraints may delay or deny needed investment in Arctic capabilities, and may curtail Arctic trainingand operations.


            As the Department downsizes to meet budgetary targets, it will have to prioritize engagements for the resulting smaller force. There is also a risk that desired investments in Arctic capabilities may not compete successfully against other requirements in the Department’s budgetary priorities. Where possible, DoD will mitigate this risk by

developing innovative ways to employ existing capabilities in coordination with other

departments and agencies and international partners, and by enhancing scientific, research,

and development partnerships. CDRUSNORTHCOM plays a key role in mitigating this risk

as the Arctic capability advocate within the Department’s planning and programming

activities. Commander, U.S. European Command (CDRUSEUCOM) and Commander, U.S.

Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM) also play a role by fostering collaborative working

relationships with regional partners.


            • Political rhetoric and press reporting about boundary disputes and competition for resources may inflame regional tensions.


            Efforts to manage disagreements diplomatically may be hindered if the public narrative becomes one of rivalry and conflict. The Department will mitigate this risk by ensuring its plans, actions, and words are coordinated, and when appropriate, by engaging the press to counter unhelpful narratives with facts. The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will monitor DoD activities, programs, and posture in the region to ensure the Department is sending a clear message to key audiences regarding the Department’s efforts to promote security, safety, and defense cooperation.


            • Being too aggressive in taking steps to address anticipated future security risks may create the conditions of mistrust and miscommunication under which such risks could materialize.


            There is some risk that the perception that the Arctic is being militarized may lead to an “arms race” mentality that could lead to a breakdown of existing cooperative approaches to shared challenges. The Department will mitigate this risk by focusing on collaborative security approaches as outlined in the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and by supporting other Federal departments and agencies where they have leadership roles. Building trust through transparency about the intent of our military activities and participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises and other engagements that facilitate information-sharing will be a key means of addressing this risk.




 The Department will work collaboratively with allies and partners through the ways and means outlined in this strategy to support the development of the Arctic as a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. Priority will be given to addressing key near-term challenges primarily in key enablers, including: shortfalls in ice and weather reporting and forecasting; limitations in C4ISR due to lack of assets and harsh environmental conditions; and limited domain awareness. The key will be to address needs over time as activity in the Arctic increases, while balancing potential Arctic investments with other national priorities. This approach will help the United States achieve its objectives as outlined in the National Strategy for the Arctic Region while mitigating risks and overcoming challenges presented by the growing geostrategic importance of the Arctic.

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