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Friday, December 23, 2011

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses


Kenneth Katzman
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

The Obama Administration identifies Iran as a major threat to U.S. national security interests. This perception is generated by suspicions of Iran’s intentions for its nuclear program - heightened by a November 8, 2011, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report - as well as by Iran’s support for militant groups in the Middle East and in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. officials also accuse Iran of helping Syria’s leadership try to defeat a growing popular opposition movement, and of taking advantage of Shiite majority unrest against the Sunni-led, pro-U.S. government of Bahrain. In October 2011, U.S. officials accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.

The Obama Administration initially offered Iran’s leaders consistent and sustained engagement with the potential for closer integration with and acceptance by the West in exchange for limits to its nuclear program. After observing a crackdown on peaceful protests in Iran in 2009, and failing to obtain Iran’s agreement to implement any nuclear compromise, the Administration has worked since early 2010 on a “two-track strategy” to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran while maintaining offers of further engagement. Significant additional sanctions were imposed on Iran by the U.N. Security Council (Resolution 1929), as well as related “national measures” by the European Union, Japan, South Korea, and other countries. Further measures intended to compel foreign firms to exit the Iranian market were contained in U.S. legislation passed in June 2010 (the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, P.L. 111-195). In concert, the Administration has stepped up arms sales to regional states that share the U.S. suspicions of Iran’s intentions.

Perhaps hoping to avoid additional sanctions, Iran attended December 2010 and January 2011 talks with the six powers negotiating with Iran, but no substantive progress was reported at any of these meetings. The prospects for new talks seemed to increase in August 2011 as a result of Iran- Russia discussions of new formulas for compromise, supplemented by Iranian official statements suggesting potential acceptance of some widely discussed international proposals. However, no date for new talks was arranged and the November 2011 IAEA report reduced the prospect for new talks and increased international support for additional sanctions. This tend has been accelerated by a row between Iran and Britain that included the ransacking of Britain’s embassy in Tehran on November 29 by youths tacitly backed by Iran’s security forces—an action that has furthered Tehran’s isolation.

In 2011, in the context of the popular uprisings throughout the Middle East, and perhaps addressing criticism that it did not sufficiently support the popular uprising in Iran in 2009, the Administration has increased its public criticism of Iran’s human rights record. That effort has been broadly supported in the international community. Some in the 112th Congress, aside from supporting additional economic sanctions against Iran, believe the United States should provide additional vocal and material support to the democracy movement in Iran, despite its outward quiescence in most of 2011. The Administration argues that it has supported the opposition through civil society and other programs, and by using recent authorities to sanction Iranian officials who suppress human rights in Iran and help Syria repress human rights. For further information, including pending Iran sanctions legislation, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions; and CRS Report RL34544, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Status.



Date of Report: December 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 82
Order Number: RL32048
Price: $29.95

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Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Aid Conditions, Restrictions, and Reporting Requirements


Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

K. Alan Kronstadt
Specialist in South Asian Affairs


The 112th Congress continues to debate levels of U.S. assistance to Pakistan in light of signs that Pakistan may not be a fully willing and effective U.S. partner, and that official Pakistani elements continue to support Afghan insurgent forces. During a period of economic and budget crises in the United States, Obama Administration officials and some senior Members of Congress have voiced concerns about the efficacy of continuing the flow of billions of U.S. aid dollars into Pakistan, with some in Congress urging more stringent conditions on, or even curtailment of, such aid. At issue is whether Pakistan’s civilian government and security services are using the aid as intended domestically while actively supporting U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and combat regional insurgent and terrorist elements. Existing aid restrictions and the certification process required for greater accountability on the part of Pakistan are thus under scrutiny.

A number of current laws restrict or place conditions on certain aid to Pakistan, such as Economic Support Funds and the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund (PCF). Others require the President, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan meets specific criteria to receive U.S. aid. Examples include that the implementing agency is qualified to manage the funds; that the Pakistani government has agreed to clear, achievable goals; that it is meeting human rights criteria; and that the country is making progress in achieving U.S. aid objectives, and is cooperating with the United States in combating terrorist networks and securing its nuclear weapons. In addition, reporting requirements include a quarterly report on the specific uses of PCF; an annual report on Pakistan’s cooperation regarding efforts to dismantle nuclear weaponsrelated supplier networks and combat terrorist groups (to allow security-related aid and arms transfers to Pakistan from 2011 to 2014); a report to explain certification of U.S. aid to Pakistan; and an annual report from the President confirming that providing aid to Pakistan is in the U.S. national interest and that Pakistan has made substantial efforts to adhere to international counternarcotics agreements. Waivers in current law exist: one allows aid restrictions to be waived for human health and welfare risks; three authorize waiving aid restrictions if the President determines that it is in U.S. national security interests to do so.

Legislation before the 112th Congress on U.S. aid to Pakistan goes beyond current law. The conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2012 (H.R. 1540), issued on December 12, 2011, includes provisions to withhold 60% of any FY2012 appropriations for PCF unless the Secretary of Defense reports to Congress a strategy for the use of such funds and the metrics for determining their effectiveness, and a strategy to enhance Pakistani efforts to counter improvised explosive devices. Among other pending bills are those that would totally eliminate aid to Pakistan “under any provision of law,” and provide no waivers or certification requirements; one that would eliminate all aid unless new certification regarding the Pakistani government’s knowledge of Osama bin Laden is provided; one that would eliminate all aid except for aid that would ensure the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons; and one that would prohibit all non-security aid. Increased reporting and certification requirements are included in many of the bills currently before Congress, as well.

This report provides a comprehensive list of existing laws and pending legislation containing conditions, limitations, and reporting requirements for U.S. foreign assistance to Pakistan. It will track the debate on this topic and resulting changes. For a broader discussion of U.S. aid to Pakistan, see CRS Report R41856, Pakistan: U.S. Foreign Assistance. For discussion of the current state of U.S.-Pakistan relations, see CRS Report R41832, Pakistan-U.S. Relations: A Summary. Both are updated regularly.



Date of Report: December 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R42116
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Iraq Casualties: U.S. Military Forces and Iraqi Civilians, Police, and Security Forces


Hannah Fischer
Information Research Specialist

This report presents U.S. military casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation New Dawn (OND) as well as governmental and nongovernmental estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties.

For several years, there were few estimates from any national or international government source regarding Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. Now, however, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is reporting civilian casualty estimates. In addition, several Iraqi ministries have released monthly or total casualty statistics.

Nongovernmental sources also have released various estimates of Iraqi civilian, police, and security forces casualties. This report includes estimates from Iraq Body Count (IBC), the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (ICCC), Iraq Family Health Survey (IFHS), the most recent study published in the Lancet, the Brookings Institution, and the British survey firm, Opinion Research Business (ORB).

Because the estimates of Iraqi casualties contained in this report are based on varying time periods and have been created using differing methodologies, readers should exercise caution when using them and should look to them as guideposts rather than as statements of fact.



Date of Report: December
6, 2011
Number of Pages:
10
Order Number: R4
0824
Price: $29.95

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Thailand: Background and U.S. Relations


Emma Chanlett-Avery
Specialist in Asian Affairs

U.S.-Thailand relations are of interest to Congress because of Thailand’s status as a long-time military ally and a significant trade and economic partner. Ties have been complicated by deep political and economic instability in the wake of a September 2006 coup that displaced Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, a popular but divisive figure who remains a flashpoint for many divisions within Thailand. The United States has removed the restrictions on aid imposed after the 2006 coup, but questions remain about how relations will fare as Bangkok seeks political stability.

Thailand has long been seen as a stable model of democracy and economic development, but its politics have more recently been dominated by battles between populist forces led by Thaksin (now in exile) and his opponents, a mix of conservative royalists and military figures, and other Bangkok elites. Despite his exile, pro-Thaksin political parties have won both nationwide elections since his ouster, and the current government is led by his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra. Mass movements both supporting and opposing Thaksin have staged vigorous demonstrations, and one such set of protests spilled over to riots in Bangkok and other cities in May 2010, causing the worst street violence in Thailand in decades.

Many analysts believe that traditional Thai elites—particularly the military’s top brass and many prominent royalist figures—remain deeply opposed to Thaksin and any indication that he might seek to return to a political role in Thailand. But Thaksin (and Yingluck) have considerable support in the country’s poorer regions, stemming from programs Thaksin pursued during his rule from 2001-2006 to provide rural healthcare and other benefits. His ouster has brought out divisions that had been emerging for years between the growing middle-class of Bangkok and the poorer rural population. Risks are heightened by uncertainty about the health of Thailand’s widely revered King Bhumiphol Adulyadej, who is 84.

Despite past differences on Burma policy and human rights issues, shared economic and security interests have long provided the basis for U.S.-Thai cooperation. Thailand contributed troops and support for U.S. military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq and was designated as a major non-NATO ally in December 2003. Thailand’s airfields and ports play a particularly important role in U.S. global military strategy, including having served as the primary hub of the relief effort following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2008 Cyclone Nargis in Burma. Although the alliance itself does not appear to be fundamentally shaken by events of the past few years, Thailand’s reliability as a partner, and its ability to be a regional leader, are uncertain. Successive Thai governments have also been unable to stem violence by insurgents in the southern majority- Muslim provinces.

Under the Obama Administration, the United States has prioritized engagement with Southeast Asia. With its favorable geographic location and broad-based economy, Thailand has traditionally been considered among the most likely countries to play a major leadership role in the region and has been an aggressive advocate of increased economic integration. But growing U.S. engagement with Indonesia and Thailand’s domestic problems appear to have dimmed the prominence of the U.S.-Thai relationship in Southeast Asia. Thailand maintains close relations with China and is considered by some to be a key arena of competition between Beijing and Washington for influence.



Date of Report:
December 8, 2011
Number of Pages:
26
Order Number: RL3
2593
Price: $29.95

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U.S. Nuclear Cooperation with India: Issues for Congress


Paul K. Kerr
Analyst in Nonproliferation

India, which has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and does not have International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on all of its nuclear material, exploded a “peaceful” nuclear device in 1974, convincing the world of the need for greater restrictions on nuclear trade. The United States created the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as a direct response to India’s test, halted nuclear exports to India a few years later, and worked to convince other states to do the same. India tested nuclear weapons again in 1998. However, President Bush announced July 18, 2005, he would “work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India” and would “also seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies,” in the context of a broader partnership with India.

U.S. nuclear cooperation with other countries is governed by the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) of 1954 (P.L. 95-242). However, P.L. 109-401, which President Bush signed into law on December 18, 2006, allows the President to waive several provisions of the AEA. On September 10, 2008, President Bush submitted to Congress, in addition to other required documents, a written determination that
P.L. 109-401’s requirements for U.S. nuclear cooperation with India to proceed had been met. President Bush signed P.L. 110-369, which approved the agreement, into law October 8, 2008. Then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and India’s then-External Affairs Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee signed the agreement two days later, and it entered into force December 6, 2008. Additionally, the United States and India signed a subsequent arrangement in July 2010 which governs “arrangements and procedures under which” India may reprocess U.S.- origin nuclear fuel in two new national reprocessing facilities, which New Delhi has not yet constructed.

The NSG, at the behest of the Bush Administration, agreed in September 2008 to exempt India from some of its export guidelines. That decision has effectively left decisions regarding nuclear commerce with India almost entirely up to individual governments. Since the NSG decision, India has concluded numerous nuclear cooperation agreements with foreign suppliers. However, U.S. companies have not yet started nuclear trade with India and may be reluctant to do so if New Delhi does not resolve concerns regarding its policies on liability for nuclear reactor operators and suppliers. Taking a step to resolve such concerns, India signed the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, which has not yet entered into force, October 27, 2010. However, many observers have argued that Indian nuclear liability legislation adopted in August 2010 is inconsistent with the Convention.

The Obama Administration has continued with the Bush Administration’s policy regarding civil nuclear cooperation with India. According to a November 8, 2010, White House fact sheet, the United States “intends to support India’s full membership” in the NSG, as well as other multilateral export control regimes.



Date of Report:
November 23, 2011
Number of Pages:
49
Order Number: RL3
3016
Price: $29.95

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