Biden Opposes NDAA Provision Requiring Him to Disclose Details on Iran's Military to Congress
US President Joe Biden signed the country's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 on Monday.
Joe Biden appears to have opposed a provision in the NDAA that required him to share detailed reports on Iran's military capabilities and activities, according to a White House statement released shortly after the president signed the bill.
Biden said that several provisions of the NDAA, including one related to Iran (Sec. 1227(a)(1), which requires a "detailed description" of the country's military advancements, oil transfers, missile launches and the like, would "effectively require executive departments and agencies to submit reports to certain committees that will include highly sensitive classified information, including information that could reveal critical intelligence sources or military operational plans".
"The Constitution vests the President with the authority to prevent the disclosure of such highly sensitive information in order to discharge his responsibility to protect the national security", Biden noted in his statement, adding that "at the same time, congressional oversight committees have legitimate needs to perform vital oversight and other legislative functions with respect to national security and military matters".
He said that he believes Congress "shares" this understanding and hopes that lawmakers will "comply with statutory reporting requirements in a way that satisfies congressional needs pursuant to the traditional accommodation practice and consistent with due regard for the protection from unauthorized disclosure of classified information relating to sensitive intelligence sources and methods or other exceptionally sensitive matters".
The statement comes amid Washington's continued assertions that it remains committed to countering the "threat" posed by Iran. Illustrating its efforts, State Department spokesperson Ned Price revealed that the US Navy had seized "upwards of 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and 226,600 rounds of ammunition from a vessel originating in Iran".
"Iran's support for armed groups throughout the region threatens international and regional security, our forces, our diplomatic personnel and citizens in the region, as well as our partners", Price continued.
According to the US, Tehran also poses a "grave threat" to peace in the region by developing its nuclear and missile programmes - something that Washington reiterated during a meeting in Jerusalem between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart Eyal Hulata.
Biden's opposition to disclosing Iran-related military details to Congress comes as nuclear talks resumed in Vienna on Monday, kicking off another round of negotiations to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that former President Donald Trump ditched in 2018.
The 2015 nuclear accord, signed by the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 countries (the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom, plus Germany) envisaged Tehran scaling back its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. However, since Trump's withdrawal from the deal, Iran has gradually stepped away from its nuclear commitments.
With the Vienna talks entering their eighth round, the US has said that it was considering additional options for Iran in case of the negotiations possibly failing, without elaborating on the plans. Tehran, in its turn, insists that Washington should ensure sanctions relief, particularly when it comes to sanctions on Iranian oil.
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