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U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond

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U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Clare Ribando Seelke Specialist in Latin American Affairs Kristin Finklea Specialist in Domestic Security May 7, 2015 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41349 CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Summary Violence perpetrated by a range of criminal groups continues to threaten citizen security and governance in some parts of Mexico, a country with which the United States shares a nearly 2,000-mile border and more than $500 billion in annual trade. Although organized crime-related violence in Mexico has generally declined since 2011, analysts estimate that it may have claimed more than 80,000 lives between December 2006 and December 2014. Recent cases—particularly the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, Mexico in September 2014—have drawn attention to the problems of corruption and impunity for human rights abuses in Mexico. Supporting Mexico’s efforts to reform its criminal justice system is widely regarded as crucial for combating criminality and better protecting citizen security in the country. U.S. support for those efforts has increased significantly as a result of the development and implementation of the Mérida Initiative, a bilateral partnership launched in 2007 for which Congress has appropriated some $2.5 billion. U.S. assistance focuses on (1) disrupting organized criminal groups, (2) institutionalizing the rule of law, (3) creating a 21st century border, and (4) building strong and resilient communities. Inaugurated to a six-year term in December 2012, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has continued U.S.-Mexican security cooperation begun during the Felipe Calderón government. Peña Nieto has requested increased assistance for judicial reform and prevention efforts, but limited U.S. involvement in some law enforcement and intelligence operations. Despite those restrictions, U.S. intelligence has helped Mexico arrest top crime leaders, including Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán—the world’s most wanted drug trafficker—in February 2014.The Interior Ministry is now the primary entity through which Mérida training and equipment requests are coordinated and intelligence is channeled. The 114th Congress is continuing to fund and oversee the Mérida Initiative and related domestic initiatives. From FY2008 to FY2015, Congress appropriated roughly $2.5 billion in Mérida Initiative assistance for Mexico, including some $194 million provided in the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-235). That total is $79 million above the Administration’s request; it aims to support efforts to secure Mexico’s southern border and justice sector programs. As of April 2015, more than $1.3 billion of Mérida Initiative assistance had been delivered. The FY2016 request for the Mérida Initiative is for $119 million to help advance justice sector reform, modernize Mexico’s borders (north and south), and support violence prevention programs. Possible questions for oversight may include the following. 1) How is the State Department measuring the efficacy of Mérida programs and improving or eliminating ineffective programs? 2) To what extent is the Mexican government moving judicial and police reform efforts forward, and how is U.S. assistance supporting those reforms? 3) Are Mérida-funded programs helping the Mexican government respond to new challenges and priorities, including securing its southern border? 4) Is Mexico meeting the human rights conditions placed on Mérida Initiative funding? See also CRS Report R43001, Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role; CRSCRS Report IF10160, The Rule of Law in Mexico and the Mérida Initiative. Congressional Research Service U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Contents Introduction...................................................................................................................................... 1 Background ...................................................................................................................................... 2 Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in Mexico .................................................. 2 The Peña Nieto Administration’s Security Strategy .................................................................. 4 The Mérida Initiative: Funding and Implementation................................................................. 6 Implementation .......................................................................................................................... 8 The Four Pillars of the Mérida Initiative ......................................................................................... 9 Pillar One: Disrupting the Operational Capacity of Organized Crime ...................................... 9 Pillar Two: Institutionalizing Reforms to Sustain the Rule of Law and Respect for Human Rights in Mexico ..................................................................................................... 10 Reforming the Police......................................................................................................... 11 Reforming the Judicial and Penal Systems ....................................................................... 12 Pillar Three: Creating a “21st Century Border” ....................................................................... 14 Northbound and Southbound Inspections ......................................................................... 15 Preventing Border Enforcement Corruption ..................................................................... 16 Mexico’s Southern Borders ............................................................................................... 16 Pillar Four: Building Strong and Resilient Communities ........................................................ 17 Issues.............................................................................................................................................. 18 Measuring the Success of the Mérida Initiative ...................................................................... 18 Extraditions.............................................................................................................................. 19 Drug Production and Interdiction in Mexico ........................................................................... 20 Human Rights Concerns and Conditions on Mérida Initiative Funding ................................. 21 Role of the U.S. Department Of Defense in Mexico ............................................................... 23 Balancing Assistance to Mexico with Support for Southwest Border Initiatives .................... 24 Integrating Counterdrug Programs in the Western Hemisphere .............................................. 25 Outlook .......................................................................................................................................... 26 Figures Figure 1. Map of Mexico ................................................................................................................. 3 Figure 2. Current Status and Focus of the Mérida Initiative ............................................................ 7 Figure 3. Individuals Extradited from Mexico to the United States .............................................. 20 Tables Table 1. FY2010–FY2016 Mérida Funding for Mexico .................................................................. 8 Table A-1. U.S. Assistance to Mexico by Account, FY2010-FY2016 ........................................... 27 Appendixes Appendix. U.S. Assistance to Mexico ........................................................................................... 27 Congressional Research Service U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Contacts Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 27 Congressional Research Service U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Introduction For almost a decade, violence and crime perpetrated by warring criminal organizations has threatened citizen security and governance in parts of Mexico. While the illicit drug trade has long been prevalent in Mexico, an increasing number of criminal organizations are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States and local drug markets. This violence resulted in more than 60,000 deaths in Mexico during the Felipe Calderón Administration (December 2006-November 2012). Another 20,000 organized crime-related deaths have occurred thus far during the Enrique Peña Nieto Administration.1 The still unresolved case of 43 missing students who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, in September 2014 has drawn attention to the particular issues of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and impunity in Mexico. The May 1, 2015, shoot down of a Mexican military helicopter in Jalisco, as well as escalating violence in Tamaulipas, have raised security concerns in the lead up to June 7 mid-term elections.2 U.S.-Mexican cooperation to improve security and the rule of law in Mexico has increased significantly as a result of the development and implementation of the Mérida Initiative, a bilateral partnership developed by the Bush and Calderón governments. Between FY2008 and FY2015, Congress appropriated roughly $2.5 billion for Mérida Initiative programs in Mexico (see Table 1 for recent aid figures). Of that total, more than $1.3 billion worth of training, equipment, and technical assistance has been provided. Mexico, for its part, has invested some $79 billion of its own resources on security and public safety, including $11 billion in 2015.3 While bilateral efforts have yielded some positive results, the weakness of Mexico’s criminal justice system may have limited the effectiveness of those efforts. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) took office in December 2012 vowing to reduce violence in Mexico and adjust the current U.S.-Mexican security strategy to focus on violence prevention. While Mexico’s public relations approach to security issues has changed, most analysts maintain that Peña Nieto has quietly adopted an operational approach similar to that of former president Calderón. The Mexican government has continued law enforcement and intelligence-sharing with U.S. counterparts; it has also used Mérida Initiative equipment to bolster security along its southern border. Congress is in the process of considering the Obama Administration’s FY2016 request of $119 million for the Mérida Initiative. Congress may analyze how progress under the Mérida Initiative is being measured; how U.S. funds have been used to advance Mexico’s police and judicial reform efforts; and the degree to which U.S. programs in Mexico complement other U.S. counterdrug and border security efforts. Compliance with Merida’s human rights conditions may continue to be closely monitored. Congress could also explore how the use of newer tools—such 1 This figure is an estimate. Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David A. Shirk, Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2014, Trans-Border Institute (TBI), April 2015; Hereinafter: TBI, April 2015. Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez, ¿Bajó la violencia? Nexos, February 1, 2015. Hereinafter: Guerrero, February 2015. 2 Tracy Wilkinson, “Drug Violence Escalates; as Elections Approach, an Army Helicopter Is Shot Down and a New Cartel Emerges,” Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2015. 3 Government of Mexico, “Mexico’s Fight for Security: Strategy and Main Achievements,” June 2011. Marciel Reyes Tepach, El Presupuesto Público Federal para la Función Seguridad Pública, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, Cámara de Diputados, March and December 2013. U.S. Department of State, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), March 2015. Hereinafter: INCSR, 2015. Congressional Research Service 1 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond as aerial drones—might bolster current security cooperation efforts, particularly on Mexico’s northern and southern borders. This report provides a framework for examining the current status and future prospects for U.S.Mexican security cooperation. It begins with a brief discussion of security challenges in Mexico and Mexico’s security strategy. It then provides updated information on congressional funding and oversight of the Mérida Initiative before delving into its four pillars. The report concludes by raising policy issues that Congress may wish to consider as it continues to fund and oversee the Mérida Initiative and broader U.S.-Mexican security cooperation. Background Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in Mexico4 Countering the movement of illegal drugs from Mexico into the U.S. market has remained a top U.S. drug control priority for decades. Mexico is a major producer and supplier to the U.S. market of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana and a major transit country for cocaine sold in the United States. While marijuana remains the “most commonly abused drug in the United States”—with most of the supply coming from Mexico—there has also been particular concern about the increasing availability of Mexican-produced heroin in the United States.5 Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and their affiliated distribution networks dominate the U.S. drug market. Mexico is also a consumer of illicit drugs, particularly in places where criminal organizations have been paying their workers in product rather than in cash.6 Since the mid-2000s, the violence and brutality of the Mexican DTOs has escalated as they have battled for control of trafficking routes into the United States and local drug distribution networks in Mexico. U.S. and Mexican officials now often refer to drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) as transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) since they have branched out into other criminal activities to supplement income earned from drug trafficking. Those include human trafficking, kidnapping (including of migrants), extortion, and illegally tapping oil pipelines. The Calderón Administration made combating organized crime its top priority. Government enforcement efforts, many of which were led by military forces, took down leaders from all of the major DTOs, either through arrests or deaths during operations to detain them. The pace of those takedowns accelerated beginning in late 2009, due to increased U.S.-Mexican intelligencesharing. The Calderón government extradited record numbers of criminals to the United States; however few were prosecuted in Mexico. At the same time, Mexico also experienced record violence, partially in response to government efforts, as criminal groups split and proliferated. Several sources have reported that organized crime-related homicides in Mexico peaked in 2011, before falling since that time.7 Since the government is no longer publicly releasing information 4 CRS Report R41576, Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Violence, by June S. Beittel. U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Drug Threat Assessment Summary 2014, DEA-DCT-DIR-002-15, November 2014, pp. 1-2. 6 INCSR, 2015. 7 TBI, April 2015. 5 Congressional Research Service 2 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond on trends in organized crime-related killings as opposed to all homicides, it is difficult to analyze the security situation with precision. Nevertheless, according to Mexico’s national security system, homicides in Mexico declined by 16.5% in 2013 and 15% in 2014. Extortions and kidnappings, however, continued to increase until 2014.8 The violence has taken place largely in contested drug production and transit zones representing a small percentage of Mexican municipalities. Still, the regions of the country most affected by the violence have shifted over time to include large cities (such as Monterrey, Nuevo León) and tourist zones (Acapulco, Guerrero). There have been incidents of violence across the country, with the security situation in particular areas changing rapidly. For example, violence spiked dramatically in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, in 2008 and remained at extremely high levels through mid-2011, before rapidly declining. While violence has declined in some parts of northern Mexico (including Chihuahua, Baja California, and Nuevo León), it has spiked in the interior of the country and along the Pacific Coast, particularly in Michoacán, Guerrero, and Jalisco. New and more violent groups have emerged; including a group—the New Generation Jalisco Cartel— that shot down a Mexican military helicopter in Jalisco with rocket-propelled grenades in early May 2015.Tamaulipas is also experiencing a serious security crisis. Figure 1. Map of Mexico Source: Graphic created by CRS. Map files from Map Resources. 8 Guerrero, February 2015. Congressional Research Service 3 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond The Peña Nieto Administration’s Security Strategy Upon taking office in December 2012, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) President Enrique Peña Nieto made violence reduction one of his priorities, although his government focused more of its political capital on enacting economic reforms than on addressing security issues.9 The six pillars of Peña Nieto’s security strategy include (1) planning; (2) prevention; (3) protection and respect of human rights; (4) coordination; (5) institutional transformation; and (6) monitoring and evaluation. Peña Nieto has taken action on two priority proposals on security: launching a national crime prevention plan10 and establishing a unified code of criminal procedures to cover judicial procedures for the federal government and the states. Other key proposals—creating a large national gendarmerie (militarized police) and a strong central intelligence agency—have either been delayed or significantly watered down.11 President Peña Nieto secured approval from the Mexican Congress to place the secretariat of public security (including the federal police) and intelligence functions under the interior ministry. That ministry is now the focal point for security collaboration and intelligence-sharing with foreign governments, as well as state and municipal authorities. The states have in turn been divided into five regions and encouraged to stand up unified state police forces. In addition to enacting a unified code of criminal procedure, the Peña Nieto government has allocated additional funds to support implementation of judicial reforms enacted in 2008. As per those constitutional reforms, Mexico has until June 2016 to move from a closed-door judicial system based on written arguments presented to a judge to an adversarial public trial system with oral arguments and the presumption of innocence. These changes aim to make Mexico’s system more transparent and impartial.12 With only four states fully operating under the new system and 24 partially operating under the new system, significant work remains to be done. Criticism of Peña Nieto’s security strategy has mounted since mid-2014.13 Many argue that Peña Nieto has struggled to define his security priorities and how they will be achieved. Others assert that Peña Nieto maintained Calderón’s reactive approach of deploying federal forces—including the military—to areas where crime surges rather than engaging in a proactive effort aimed at strengthening institutions to deter crime and violence.14 In Michoacán, the emergence of armed civilian “self-defense groups” that clashed with crime groups prompted a federal intervention that has yielded mixed results.15 Tamaulipas has been divided into four zones overseen by Mexican military and federal police forces, yet violence has continued unabated.16 In those states and 9 CRS Report R42917, Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations, by Clare Ribando Seelke. The government budgeted $19 billion for prevention efforts in 2013-2014; those funds are providing a variety of interventions in municipalities with high crime rates that also exhibit social risk factors. The program has been criticized, however, for lacking a rigorous methodology for selecting and evaluating the communities and interventions that it is funding. México Evalua, Prevención del Delito en México: Dónde Quedó la Evidencia? January 2014. 11 Vanda Felbab-Brown, Changing the Game or Dropping the Ball? Mexico’s Security and Anti-Crime Strategy Under President Enrique Peña Nieto, Brookings Institution, November 2014. Hereinafter: Felbab-Brown, 2014. 12 For background, see CRS Report R43001, Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role, by Clare Ribando Seelke. 13 Andrés Bello, “The Mexican Morass,” The Economist, January 24, 2015. 14 Felbab-Brown, 2014. 15 Kimberly Heinle, Cory Molzahn, and David Shirk, Citizen Security in Michoacán, TBI and Woodrow Wilson Center (WWC) Mexico Institute, January 2015. 16 Christopher Wilson and Eugenio Weigend, Tamaulipas: A New Security Strategy for a Troubled State, WWC (continued...) 10 Congressional Research Service 4 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond elsewhere, high-value targeting of top criminal leaders has continued; at least 93 of 122 highvalue targets identified by the government have been detained.17 While impressive, this strategy has contributed to crime groups splintering, proliferating, and diversifying their activities from drug trafficking into other types of crime. While declines in overall homicides have been seemingly positive, experts have questioned the veracity of government figures.18 Moreover, fewer than 20% of homicides have been successfully prosecuted with convictions, suggesting high levels of impunity.19 Overall, few crimes—perhaps 10%—are reported, and, on average, more than 90% of all reported crimes go unpunished.20 Several cases have drawn attention to the particular problem of impunity for human rights abuses: • In October 2014, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued a report concluding that at least 12 people had been killed execution-style by the Mexican military in Tlatlaya, Mexico on July 1, 2014.21 The military originally claimed that the victims were criminals killed in a confrontation with soldiers. This case has resulted in criticism of not only the military and state prosecutors but federal prosecutors who originally failed to investigate these allegations of extrajudicial killings. The CNDH also documented claims of torture of two witnesses to the killings by the military and prosecutors from the state of Mexico. Seven soldiers and one lieutenant have since been arrested for their involvement. • The still unresolved case of 43 missing students who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, in September 2014 has also drawn attention to the issues of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and impunity. The disappearance and likely killing of the students—which involved the local police, the Iguala mayor, and his wife—galvanized large protests in Mexico and around the world against corruption and impunity. • Mexico’s interior minister has launched an investigation into allegations that federal forces may have executed 16 individuals who were unarmed in Apatzingán, Michoacán in January 2015.22 In response to criticisms of the Tlatlaya and Iguala incidents, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto proposed 10 actions to improve the rule of law in November 2014. One of those actions was the mando único (unified command)—a constitutional reform that would require states to remove the command of police forces from municipalities and place it at the state level. This plan aims to reduce police corruption and improve coordination with federal forces. Some experts question the notion that state forces are any less corrupt and maintain that this change will not (...continued) Mexico Institute, October 2014. 17 “Mexican ‘Decapitation’ Strategy Reaps More Rewards,” Latin News Daily, April 20, 2015. 18 Alejandro Hope,”Mexico Homicides: Something Doesn’t Add Up,” Insight Crime, April 11, 2014. 19 Guillermo Zepeda, Seguridad y Justicia Penal en los Estados: 25 Indicadores de Nuestra Debilidad Institucional, Mexico Evalua, March 2012. 20 Marguerite Cawley, “Mexico Victims’ Survey Highlights Under-Reporting of Crime,” Insight Crime, October 1, 2014. 21 CRS Report IF10160, The Rule of Law in Mexico and the Mérida Initiative, by Clare Ribando Seelke. 22 “Mexico Says to Investigate Reports of Police Killings,” Reuters, April 20, 2015. Congressional Research Service 5 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond prevent abuses or strengthen accountability. No constitutional reform has been passed. Little progress has been made on the other proposals, such as establishing a national emergency hotline. President Peña Nieto also replaced attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam with former senator Arely Gomez in February 2015. Attorney general Gomez has stated that there are still pending issues in the Iguala case and is working with experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) on the investigation. IAHCR also intends to help the Mexican government develop search plans for missing persons and improve services for victims’ families. Pursuant to reforms enacted in December 2013, the attorney general’s office will be replaced by an independent prosecutor general’s office. In April 2015, the Mexican Congress enacted a law establishing a national anti-corruption system with a special prosecutor to handle cases of corruption. The law also gives more power to the existing federal audit office and the public administration ministry. Some analysts have praised the law as a step forward for efforts aimed at combating official corruption, while others have cast doubt on its provisions and the likelihood that it will be implemented effectively. The Mérida Initiative: Funding and Implementation23 In October 2007, the United States and Mexico announced the Mérida Initiative, a package of U.S. assistance for Mexico and Central America that would begin in FY2008.24 The Mérida Initiative was developed in response to the Calderón government’s unprecedented request for increased U.S. support and involvement in helping Mexico combat drug trafficking and organized crime. As part of the Mérida Initiative’s emphasis on shared responsibility, the Mexican government pledged to tackle crime and corruption and the U.S. government pledged to address domestic drug demand and the illicit trafficking of firearms and bulk currency to Mexico.25 Whereas U.S. assistance initially focused on training and equipping Mexican security forces for counternarcotic purposes, it has shifted toward addressing the weak government institutions and societal problems that have allowed the drug trade to thrive in Mexico. The strategy now focuses more on institution-building than on technology transfers and broadens the scope of bilateral efforts to include economic development and community-based social programs. There is also increasing funding at the sub-national level for Mexican states and municipalities. In May 2013, Presidents Obama and Peña Nieto reaffirmed their commitments to the Mérida Initiative’s four pillar strategy during President Obama’s trip to Mexico. In August 2013, the U.S. and Mexican governments then agreed to focus on justice sector reform, money laundering, police and corrections professionalization at the federal and state level, border security both north and south, and piloting approaches to address root causes of violence. The U.S. and Mexican 23 For historical information, see CRS Report R40135, Mérida Initiative for Mexico and Central America: Funding and Policy Issues, by Clare Ribando Seelke. 24 In FY2008 and FY2009, the Mérida Initiative included U.S. assistance to Mexico and Central America. Beginning in FY2010, Congress separated Central America from the Mérida Initiative by creating a separate Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). For information on CARSI, see CRS Report R41731, Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress, by Peter J. Meyer and Clare Ribando Seelke. 25 For more information on U.S. drug policy, see CRS Report R43749, Drug Enforcement in the United States: History, Policy, and Trends, by Lisa N. Sacco. For more information on firearms trafficking, see CRS Report R40733, Gun Trafficking and the Southwest Border, by Vivian S. Chu and William J. Krouse. Congressional Research Service 6 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond governments held the third Security Cooperation Group meeting during the Peña Nieto government in Washington, DC, in February 2015 to oversee the Mérida Initiative and broader security cooperation efforts. Issues such as how to address human smuggling, cybersecurity, and heroin production were included on the agenda.26 Congress, with the power of the purse, has played a major role in determining the level and composition of Mérida Initiative funding for Mexico.27 From FY2008 to FY2015, Congress appropriated more than $2.5 billion for Mexico under the Mérida Initiative (see Table 1 for Mérida appropriations and Table A-1 in Appendix for overall U.S. assistance to Mexico since FY2010). In the beginning, Congress included funding for Mexico in supplemental appropriations measures in an attempt to hasten the delivery of certain equipment. Congress has also earmarked funds in order to ensure that certain programs are prioritized, such as efforts to support institutional reform. From FY2012 onward, funds provided for pillar two have exceeded all other aid categories (see Figure 2). In FY2015, Congress provided $79 million above the Administration’s request of $115 million for the Mérida Initiative in P.L. 113-235 to be used for helping Mexico secure its southern border and implement justice sector reforms. The bulk of the $119 million in funds requested by the Obama Administration for FY2016 would continue work on helping Mexico implement judicial and police reform. Figure 2. Current Status and Focus of the Mérida Initiative Source: CRS graphics. Congress has sought to influence human rights conditions and encourage efforts to combat abuses and impunity in Mexico by placing conditions on Mérida-related assistance. Congress directed that 15% of certain assistance provided to Mexican military and police forces would be subject to certain human rights conditions. Congress has also withheld funding due to human rights 26 National Security Council, “The Third Meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Security Coordination Group,” February 25, 2015. 27 For information on the development and history of the Mérida Initiative, see CRS Report R40135, Mérida Initiative for Mexico and Central America: Funding and Policy Issues, by Clare Ribando Seelke. Congressional Research Service 7 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond concerns; some $33.1 million is currently on hold.28 The conditions included in the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-76) and in the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-235) are slightly different than in previous years (see “Human Rights Concerns and Conditions on Mérida Initiative Funding”). Table 1. FY2010–FY2016 Mérida Funding for Mexico ($ in millions) Account FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 FY2015 (est) Account Totals FY2016 Request ESF 15.0a 18.0 33.3 32.1 46.1 46.0 179.5 35.0 INCLE 365.0 117.0 248.5 195.1 148.1 148.0 1,743.2 80.0 5.3 8.0 N/Ab N/A N/A N/A 428.8 N/A 385.3 143.0 281.8 227.2 194.2 194.0 2,351.5 115.0 FMF Total Sources: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2008-FY2015. Notes: ESF=Economic Support Fund; FMF=Foreign Military Financing; INCLE=International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement. a. $6 million was later reprogrammed for global climate change efforts by the State Department. b. Beginning in FY2012, FMF assistance is not included as part of the Mérida Initiative. Implementation For the past several years, Congress has maintained an interest in ensuring that Mérida-funded equipment and training is delivered efficiently. After initial delays, deliveries accelerated in 2011, with more than $500 million worth of equipment, training, and technical assistance provided. As of the end of Calderón’s term (November 2012), $1.1 billion worth of assistance had been provided. That total included roughly $873.7 million in equipment (including 20 aircraft29 and more than $100 million in non-intrusive inspection equipment) and $146.0 million in training. For most of 2013, delays in implementation occurred largely due to the fact that the Peña Nieto government was still honing its security strategy and determining the amount and type of U.S. assistance needed to support that strategy. The initial procedure the government adopted for processing all requests from Mexican ministries for Mérida Initiative funds through the interior ministry also contributed to delays. By November 2013, the State Department and Mexican foreign affairs and interior ministries had agreed to a new, more agile process for approving new Mérida Initiative projects. The governments have agreed to more than 100 new projects worth some $550 million. As of April 2015, deliveries still stood at roughly $1.3 billion, however. U.S. assistance has increasingly focused on supporting efforts to strengthen institutions in Mexico through training and technical assistance. U.S. funds support training courses offered in new or 28 Electronic correspondence with State Department official, April 23, 2015. Aerial equipment deliveries included four CASA 235 maritime surveillance aircraft, nine UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, eight Bell 412 helicopters. An Intelligence Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Dornier 328-JET arrived in late 2014. 29 Congressional Research Service 8 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond refurbished training academies for customs personnel, corrections staff, canine teams, and police (federal, state, and local).30 Some of that training is designed according to a “train the trainer” model in which the academies train instructors who in turn are able to train their own personnel. Despite the significant number of justice sector officials who have been trained over the past several years, high turnover rates within Mexican criminal justice institutions have limited the impact of U.S. training programs. The Four Pillars of the Mérida Initiative Pillar One: Disrupting the Operational Capacity of Organized Crime Mexico has focused significant effort on dismantling the leadership of the major DTOs. U.S. assistance appropriated during the first phase of the Mérida Initiative (FY2008-FY2010) enabled the purchase of equipment to support the efforts of federal security forces engaged in anti-DTO efforts. That equipment included $590.5 million worth of aircraft and helicopters, as well as forensic equipment for the Federal Police and Attorney General’s respective crime laboratories. U.S. surveillance equipment and intelligence reportedly aided the Mexican marines in tracking and capturing both Miguel Angel Treviño Morales and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.31 U.S.funded non-intrusive inspection equipment (more than $100 million) and canine units ($16.5 million) have also helped Mexican forces interdict illicit flows of drugs, weapons, and money. In response to rising heroin production in Mexico, the State Department has recently offered to provide Mexico with assistance in drug crop eradication efforts. As the DTOs continue to employ new weapons, new types of training and/or equipment may be needed to help security officials at the federal, state, and municipal levels work together to combat those new threats. As the Peña Nieto government expands the gendarmerie within the interior ministry and the criminal investigative agency or AIC within the attorney general’s office (PGR), increased assistance may be requested to assist those entities, as well as existing federal forces. As U.S. assistance increasingly flows to state-level law enforcement, assistance may be needed to advance unified commands, build investigative capacity and cooperation between police and prosecutors, and establish police standards and internal accountability mechanisms. U.S. aid has already backed the Peña Nieto government’s focus on improving coordination among federal, state, and municipal forces by helping train joint intelligence task forces that now operate in several parts of the country. The Mexican government has increasingly been conceptualizing the DTOs as for-profit corporations. Consequently, its strategy, and U.S. efforts to support it, has begun to focus more attention on disrupting the criminal proceeds used to finance DTOs’ operations, although much more could be done in that area.32 In August 2010, the Mexican government imposed limits on 30 Mérida assistance is also supporting Mexican institutions like the National Public Security System (SNSP), which sets police standards and provides grants to states and municipalities for police training, and the National Institute of Criminal Sciences (INACIPE), which provides training to judicial sector personnel. 31 “No Shots Fired: Leader of Mexico’s Zetas Cartel Captured in Precision Operation, with U.S. Help,” Associated Press, July 16, 2013; Bill Whitaker, “Behind the Arrest of Public Enemy Number One,” CBS, October 12, 2014. 32 Randal C. Archibold, “Vast Web Hides Mexican Drug Profits in Plain Sight, U.S. Authorities Say,” New York Times, (continued...) Congressional Research Service 9 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond the amount of U.S. dollars that individuals can exchange or deposit each month; those restrictions were revised in June 2014. In October 2012, the Mexican Congress approved an anti-money laundering law that established a financial crimes unit within the PGR, subjected additional industries vulnerable to money laundering to new reporting requirements, and created new criminal offenses for money laundering. Mérida assistance has provided $16 million in equipment, software, training, and technical assistance to the financial intelligence unit, which is helping that unit analyze the increasing volumes of data on suspicious transactions that have occurred in recent years and prepare cases for referral to the attorney general’s office. As mentioned, the DTOs are increasingly evolving into poly-criminal organizations, perhaps as a result of drug interdiction efforts cutting into their profits. As a result, many have urged both governments to focus on combating other types of organized crime, such as kidnapping and human smuggling. Some may therefore question whether the funding provided under the Mérida Initiative is being used to adequately address all forms of transnational organized crime. Cross-border law enforcement operations and investigations have been suggested as possible areas for increased cooperation. Of note, there already exist a number of U.S.-Mexican law enforcement partnerships, both formal and informal. For instance, Mexican federal police have participated in the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) initiative, led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).33 U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials support Mexican intelligence-gathering efforts in northern Mexico, and U.S. drones gather information that is shared with Mexican officials. A $13 million cross-border telecommunications system for sister cities along the U.S.-Mexico border that was funded by the Mérida Initiative is facilitating information-sharing among law enforcement in that region. As Mexico receives U.S. equipment and training to secure its southern borders34 with Guatemala and Belize, the need for more regional partnerships with those countries has also arisen. Pillar Two: Institutionalizing Reforms to Sustain the Rule of Law and Respect for Human Rights in Mexico35 Reforming Mexico’s corrupt and inefficient criminal justice system is widely regarded as crucial for combating criminality, strengthening the rule of law, and better protecting citizen security and human rights in the country. Recent spikes in violence and criminality have overwhelmed Mexico’s law enforcement and judicial institutions, with record numbers of arrests rarely resulting in successful convictions. Increasing cases of human rights abuses committed by (...continued) March 25, 2014. 33 The BEST Initiative is a multi-agency initiative wherein task forces seek to identify, disrupt, and dismantle criminal organizations posing significant threats to border security—both along the southwest border with Mexico as well as along the northern border with Canada. For instance, see Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Border Enforcement Security Task Forces. 34 CRS Report IF10215, Mexico’s Recent Immigration Enforcement Efforts, by Clare Ribando Seelke. 35 For more information on this pillar, see CRS Report R43001, Supporting Criminal Justice System Reform in Mexico: The U.S. Role, by Clare Ribando Seelke. Congressional Research Service 10 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond authorities at all levels, as well as Mexico’s inability to investigate and punish those accused of abuses, are also pressing concerns. Federal police reform got underway during the Calderón Administration, although recent cases of police misconduct in Tamaulipas have exemplified lingering concerns about federal forces. A major challenge has been expanding police reform efforts to the state and municipal level. Mérida funding has been used to extend U.S.-funded federal police training efforts to police from all 32 states through a National Police Training Program. With impunity rates hovering around 82% for homicide and even higher for other crimes,36 experts maintain that it is crucial for Mexico to implement the judicial reforms passed in the summer of 2008 and to focus on fighting corruption at all levels of government. In order for Mexico to transition its criminal justice system to an accusatorial system with oral trials by 2016, many have argued that U.S.-funded judicial training programs may need to be expanded. While U.S. assistance has helped federal prisons expand and improve, thousands of federal prisoners are still being housed in state prisons that are overcrowded and often extremely insecure.37 Reforming the Police Police corruption has presented additional challenges to the campaign against DTOs in Mexico. While corruption has most often plagued municipal and state police forces, federal police officers have been involved in drug trafficking and kidnapping as well. Corrupt officials have also been dismissed from the PGR’s organized crime unit, as well as its police force. The Calderón Administration took steps to reform Mexico’s police forces by dramatically increasing police budgets, raising selection standards, and enhancing police training and equipment at the federal level. It also created a national database through which police at all levels can share information and intelligence, and accelerated implementation of a national police registry. Two laws passed in 2009 created a federal police force under the secretariat for public security or SSP and another force under the PGR, both with some investigative functions. Whereas initiatives to recruit, vet, train, and equip the federal police advanced (with support from the Mérida Initiative38), efforts to build the PGR’s police force lagged behind. The Peña Nieto government has placed the federal police and the SSP under the authority of the interior ministry, created a new national gendarmerie within the federal police, and put the PGR’s police within its new investigative agency. U.S. training has been offered to most of the aforementioned entities. State and local police reform has lagged well behind federal police reform efforts. A public security law codified in January 2009 established vetting and certification procedures for state and local police to be overseen by the national public security system (SNSP). Federal subsidies have been provided to state and municipal units whose officers meet certain standards. Some $24 36 In other words, about 82% of perpetrators have not been brought to justice. Guillermo Zepeda, Seguridad y Justicia Penal en los Estados: 25 Indicadores de Nuestra Debilidad Institucional, Mexico Evalúa, March 2012. 37 Federal prison reform in Mexico began in 2008. U.S. funding supported the refurbishment of a federal penitentiary academy in Veracruz and the accreditation of seven of México’s federal facilities and 11 state prisons by the American Correctional Association (ACA). U.S. training has heretofore been provided at Mexico’s federal academy and an academy in Chihuahua, as well as in courses offered in Colorado and New Mexico. 38 Mérida funding supported training courses to improve federal police investigations, intelligence collection and analysis, and anti-money laundering capacity, as well as the construction of regional command and control centers. Congressional Research Service 11 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond million in U.S. equipment and training assistance has supported internal affairs investigations, vetting of law enforcement officials, and centralization of personnel records. Nevertheless, as of November 2014, 18,000 of 135,000 Mexican municipal police failed vetting exams and another 20,000 state police failed as well.39 The establishment of unified state police commands that could potentially absorb municipal police forces has been debated in Mexico for years.40 The Mexican Congress failed to pass a constitutional reform proposal put forth by the Calderón government to establish unified state police commands. Nevertheless, President Peña Nieto is helping states move in that direction and has introduced his own constitutional reform proposal on that issue. The outcome of the police reform efforts could have implications for U.S. initiatives to expand Mérida assistance to state and municipal police forces, particularly as the Mexican government determines how to organize and channel that assistance. Mérida funding has supported state-level academies and training courses for state and local police in officer safety, securing crime scene preservation, investigation techniques, and intelligence-gathering. In order to complement these efforts, some analysts maintain that it is important to provide assistance to civil society and human rights-related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Mexico in order to strengthen their ability to monitor police conduct and provide input on policing policies. Some maintain that citizen participation councils, combined with internal control mechanisms and stringent punishments for police misconduct, can have a positive impact on police performance and police-community relations. Others have mentioned the importance of establishing citizen observatories to develop reliable indicators to track police and criminal justice system performance, as has been done in some states. Reforming the Judicial and Penal Systems The Mexican judicial system has been widely criticized for being opaque, inefficient, and corrupt. It is plagued by long case backlogs, a high pre-trial detention rate, and an inability to secure convictions. The vast majority of drug trafficking-related arrests that have occurred over the last several years have not resulted in successful prosecutions. The PGR has also been unable to secure charges in many high-profile cases involving the arrests of politicians accused of collaborating with organized crime. Mexican prisons, particularly at the state level, are also in need of significant reforms. Increasing arrests have caused prison population to expand significantly, as has the use of preventive detention. Those suspected of involvement in organized crime can be held by the authorities for 40 days without access to legal counsel, with a possible extension of another 40 days, a practice known as “arraigo” (pre-charge detention) that has led to serious abuses by authorities.41 39 Kyra Gurney, “Corrupt Mexico Police Concentrated in 10 States,” Insight Crime, November 27, 2014. Proponents of the reform maintain that it would improve coordination with the federal government and bring efficiency, standardization, and better trained and equipped police to municipalities. Skeptics argue that police corruption has been a major problem at all levels of the Mexican policing system and argue that there is a role for municipal police who are trained to deal with local issues. 41 This practice first came into existence in the 1980s, and was formally incorporated into the Mexican Constitution through a constitutional amendment passed in 2008 as a legal instrument to fight organized crime. Its use has been criticized by several United Nations bodies, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and international and Mexican human rights organizations. For more, see Janice Deaton, Arraigo and (continued...) 40 Congressional Research Service 12 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Mexico’s former attorney general spoke out against the excessive use of arraigo, but the government continues to say it is necessary to facilitate some types of investigations.42 Many inmates (perhaps 40%) are awaiting trials, as opposed to serving sentences. As of July 2013, prisons were at 22% over-capacity.43 Prison breaks are common in state facilities, many of which are controlled by crime groups. In June 2008, then-President Calderón signed a judicial reform decree after securing the approval of Congress and Mexico’s states for an amendment to Mexico’s Constitution. Under the reform, Mexico has until 2016 to replace its trial procedures at the federal and state level, moving from a closed-door process based on written arguments to a public trial system with oral arguments and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. In addition to oral trials, judicial systems are expected to adopt additional means of alternative dispute resolution, which should help make it more flexible and efficient, thereby relieving some of the pressure on the country’s prison system. To implement the reforms, Mexico will need to implement the unified code of criminal procedure at the federal and state level, build new courtrooms, retrain current legal professionals, update law school curricula, and improve forensic technology—a difficult and expensive undertaking. From the beginning, analysts had predicted that progress in advancing judicial reform was likely to be slow due to capacity constraints and entrenched interests in the judicial system (including judges) opposed to the new system. The Calderón government devoted more attention toward modernizing the police than strengthening the justice system.44 In addition, some of the tough measures for handling organized crime cases it included in the 2008 judicial reforms appear to run counter to the spirit of the reforms, which include protections for the rights of the accused.45 Former President Calderón proposed a new federal criminal procedure code (CPC)—a key element needed to guide reform efforts—in September 2011, but it was not enacted. President Peña Nieto has repeatedly pledged to advance judicial reform and overhaul the PGR. The Mexican Congress approved a unified code of criminal procedure to cover the entire judicial system in February 2014; it was promulgated in March 2014. Experts have guardedly praised that development. In contrast to this lack of progress at the federal level, the reform has moved forward in many Mexican states. As of August 2013, 26 of Mexico’s 32 states had enacted legislation to begin the transition to an oral and adversarial justice system and 16 states had begun operating at least partially under the new system.46 Reform states have seen positive initial results as compared to non-reform states: faster case resolution times, less pre-trial detention, and tougher sentences for (...continued) Legal Reform in Mexico, University of San Diego, June 2010. 42 U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2013: Mexico, February 2014, Hereinafter: State Department, Country Report: Mexico, February 2014. The State Department human rights report covering 2014 has not yet been released. Tanya Montalvo, “Para Proteger el Éxito de una Investigación”: así Defiende México al Arraigo,” Animal Político, March, 2014. 43 State Department, Country Report: Mexico, February 2014. 44 Andrew Selee and Eric L. Olson, Steady Advances, Slow Results: U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation After Two Years of the Obama Administration, Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, April 2011. 45 For a discussion of these concerns and the reform process in general, see David Shirk, “Criminal Justice Reform in Mexico: An Overview,” Mexican Law Review, vol. 2, no. 3 (January-June 2011). 46 State Department, Country Report: Mexico, February 2014. Congressional Research Service 13 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond cases that go to trial.47 Still, daunting challenges remain, including the need to improve the investigative capacity of police and prosecutors, address the concerns of counter-reform efforts, and overcome opposition from judges and other key justice sector operators. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is implementing a $76 million rule of law program that provides assistance to Mexican state and federal authorities in all 32 of Mexico’s states and to civil society organizations that help monitor and oversee reform efforts. Activities promote prosecutorial efficiency, public support for the new system, the analytical and quality control capacity of justice sector institutions, access to justice, and victim’s assistance. USAID also supports training for private lawyers, professors, and bar associations to modify curricula and technical standards to be consistent with the new system. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has supported judicial reform at the federal level, including providing technical assistance to the Congress during the drafting and adoption of a unified CPC through its Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development (OPDAT). In 2012, DOJ worked with the PGR to design and implement a national training program through which 7,700 prosecutors, investigators, and forensic experts were trained to work as a team rather than in isolation (as was customary). DOJ also implemented a training program in Puerto Rico for Mexican federal judges. The PGR is using instructors and the training management and evaluation team from that national training program to transition its personnel and operations to the accusatorial system in nine states. OPDAT is also working with the PGR to develop specialized training programs for prosecutors in anti-money laundering, trafficking in persons, and anti-kidnapping cases. The PGR’s investigative police are receiving training from OPDAT and the U.S. Marshalls. Congress has expressed support for the continued provision of U.S. assistance for judicial reform efforts in Mexico in appropriations legislation, hearings, and committee reports. Congressional funding and oversight of judicial reform programs in Mexico is likely to continue for many years. Over time, Congress may consider how best to divide funding between the federal and state levels; how to sequence and coordinate support to key elements within the rule of law spectrum (police, prosecutors, courts); and how the efficacy of U.S. programs is being measured. Pillar Three: Creating a “21st Century Border” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with facilitating the flow of people, commerce, and trade through U.S. ports of entry while securing the border against threats. While enforcement efforts at the southwest border tend to focus on illegal migration and cross-border crime, commercial trade crossing the border also poses a potential risk to the United States. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect in 1994, U.S.-Mexico trade has dramatically increased, while investments in port infrastructure and staffing of customs officials along the border have not, until recently, been made. Particularly since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, there have been significant delays and unpredictable wait times at the U.S.-Mexico border. Concerns about those delays has increased in recent years, since roughly 80% of U.S.-Mexico trade must pass through a 47 USAID, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, and Coordination Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System and Its Technical Secretariat (SETEC); Monitoring the Implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform in Chihuahua, the State of Mexico, Morelos, Oaxaca, and Zacatecas: 2007-2011, November 2012. Congressional Research Service 14 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond port of entry (POE) along the southwest border, often more than once, as manufacturing processes between the two countries have become highly integrated. On May 19, 2010, the United States and Mexico declared their intent to collaborate on enhancing the U.S.-Mexican border as part of pillar three of the Mérida Initiative. A Twenty-First Century Border Bilateral Executive Steering Committee (ESC) 48 has met seven times since then to develop bi-national action plans and oversee implementation of those plans. The plans are focused on setting measurable goals within broad objectives: coordinating infrastructure development, expanding trusted traveler and shipment programs, establishing pilot projects for cargo pre-clearance, improving cross-border commerce and ties, and bolstering information sharing among law enforcement agencies. In December 2014, the U.S. and Mexican governments reported that their efforts had resulted in a reduction in wait times at San Isidro from three hours to 30 minutes, the modernization of the Nogales-Mariposa crossing between Arizona and Sonora, and the mutual recognition of each country’s respective trusted shipper program.49 As Congress carries out its oversight function, questions that may arise include the following: How well is Mexico fulfilling its pledges to increase security along its northern and southern borders and to enforce its immigration laws? How well are the U.S. and Mexican governments balancing security and trade concerns along the U.S.-Mexico border? How will the Mexican Congress’ recent enactment of a law that will enable U.S. customs officials to carry weapons in Mexico help advance efforts to develop binational pre-clearance facilities for U.S.-bound cargo in Mexico? Northbound and Southbound Inspections50 One element of concern regarding enhanced bilateral border security efforts is that of southbound inspections of people, goods, vehicles, and cargo. In particular, both countries have acknowledged a shared responsibility in fueling and combating the illicit drug trade. Policymakers may question who is responsible for performing northbound and southbound inspections in order to prevent illegal drugs from leaving Mexico and entering the United States and to prevent dangerous weapons and the monetary proceeds of drug sales from leaving the United States and entering Mexico. Further, if this is a joint responsibility, it is unclear how U.S. and Mexican border officials will divide the responsibility of inspections to maximize the possibility of stopping the illegal flow of goods while simultaneously minimizing the burden on the legitimate flow of goods and preventing the duplication of efforts. In addition to its inbound/northbound inspections, the United States has undertaken steps to enhance its outbound/southbound screening procedures. Currently, DHS is screening 100% of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, cash, and drugs. Also, CBP scans license plates 48 White House, “Declaration by The Government Of The United States Of America and The Government Of The United Mexican States Concerning Twenty-First Century Border Management,” press release, May 19, 2010. U.S.Mexican security cooperation along the border did not begin with the Mérida Initiative. This ESC is one of the most recent developments in the bilateral cooperation. 49 U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, “Joint Communiqué: U.S.-Mexico 21st Century Border Management Initiative Executive Steering Committee Policy Meeting,” press release, December 4, 2014. 50 There is a dearth of open-source data that currently measures the extent of inbound and outbound inspections performed by both the United States and Mexico along the southwest border. Rather, existing data tend to address seizures of drugs, guns, and money as well as apprehensions of suspects. Therefore, this section addresses current U.S. and additional initiatives to bolster cross-border inspections. Congressional Research Service 15 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond along the southwest border with the use of automated license plate readers (LPRs). Further, CBP employs non-intrusive inspection (NII) systems—both large-scale and mobile—to aid in inspection and processing of travelers and shipments. As of May 2013, CBP had “309 large-scale NII systems deployed to and in between U.S. ports of entry.”51 Historically, Mexican Customs had not served the role of performing southbound (or inbound) inspections. As part of the revised Mérida Initiative, CBP has helped to establish a Mexican Customs training academy to support professionalization and promote the Mexican Customs’ new role of performing inbound inspections. Additionally, CBP is assisting Mexican Customs in developing investigator training programs and the State Department has provided over 400 canines to assist with the inspections.52 Preventing Border Enforcement Corruption Another point that policymakers may question regarding the strengthening of the Southwest border is how to prevent the corruption of U.S. and Mexican border officials who are charged with securing the border. Data from a 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report can provide a snapshot of corruption involving Southwest border officials: From fiscal years 2005 through 2012, a total of 144 [CBP] employees were arrested or indicted for corruption-related activities, including the smuggling of aliens or drugs... About 65 percent (93 of 144 arrests) were employees stationed along the southwest border.53 To date, the 21st century border pillar has not directly addressed this issue of corruption. Congress may consider whether preventing, detecting, and prosecuting public corruption of border enforcement personnel should be a component of the border initiatives funded by the Mérida Initiative. Congress may also decide whether to increase funding—as part of or separately from Mérida funding—for the vetting of new and current border enforcement personnel. Mexico’s Southern Borders54 Policymakers may also seek to examine a relatively new element under pillar three of the Mérida Initiative that involves U.S. support for securing Mexico’s porous and insecure southern borders with Guatemala and Belize. With U.S. support, the Mexican government has been implementing a southern border security plan since 2013 that has involved the establishment of 12 naval bases on the country’s rivers and three security cordons that stretch more than 100 miles north of the Mexico-Guatemala and Mexico-Belize borders. Total State Department support for mobile nonintrusive inspection equipment and related equipment and training for Mexico’s southern border strategy was expected to exceed $86.6 million prior to the enactment of the FY2015 appropriations measure. As previously noted, Congress provided $79 million in that act (P.L. 113235) above the Administration’s FY2015 request for the Mérida Initiative in Mexico, including support for efforts to secure Mexico’s southern border. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) 51 U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) Technology, Fact Sheet, May 2013. Embassy of Mexico, Fact Sheet: The Mérida Initiative—An Overview, January 2015. 53 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Border Security: Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen CBP Efforts to Mitigate Risk of Employee Corruption and Misconduct, GAO-13-59, January 2013. 54 See CRS Report IF10215, Mexico’s Recent Immigration Enforcement Efforts, by Clare Ribando Seelke. 52 Congressional Research Service 16 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond has also provided training to troops patrolling the border, communications equipment, and support for the development of Mexico’s air mobility and surveillance capabilities. Pillar Four: Building Strong and Resilient Communities This pillar focuses on addressing the underlying causes of crime and violence, promoting security and social development, and building communities that can withstand the pressures of crime and violence. Pillar four is unique in that it has involved Mexican and U.S. federal officials working together to design and implement community-based programs in high-crime areas. Pillar four seeks to empower local leaders, civil society representatives, and private sector actors to lead crime prevention efforts in their communities. It has been informed by lessons learned from U.S. and Mexican efforts in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Ciudad Juárez: : Lessons Learned In January 2010, in response to the massacre of 15 youths with no connection to organized crime in Ciudad Juárez, the Mexican government began to prioritize crime prevention and community engagement. Federal officials worked with local authorities and civic leaders to establish six task forces to plan and oversee a strategy for reducing criminality, tackling social problems, and improving citizen-government relations. The strategy, “Todos Somos Juarez” (“We Are All Juárez”), was launched in February 2010 and involved close to $400 million in federal investments in the city. While federal officials began by amplifying access to existing social programs and building infrastructure projects, they later responded to local demands to concentrate efforts in certain “safe zones.” Control over public security in the city shifted from the military, to the federal police, and then to municipal authorities.55 Prior to the endorsement of a formal pillar four strategy, the U.S. government’s pillar four efforts in Ciudad Juárez involved the expansion of existing initiatives, such as school-based “culture of lawfulness”56 programs and drug demand reduction and treatment services. Culture of lawfulness (CoL) programs aim to combine “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to educate all sectors of society on the importance of upholding the rule of law. U.S. support also included new programs, such as support for an anonymous tip line for the police. USAID supported a crime and violence mapping project that enabled Ciudad Juarez’s government to identify hot spots and respond with tailored prevention measures as well as a program to provide safe spaces, activities, and job training programs for atrisk youth. USAID also provided $1 million in grants to local organizations working in the areas of social cohesion. It may never be determined what role the aforementioned efforts played in the significant reductions in violence that has occurred in Ciudad Juaréz since 2011.57 Nevertheless, lessons have been gleaned from this example of Mexican and U.S. involvement in municipal crime prevention that are informing newer programs in Mexico and in Central America. Analysts have praised the sustained, high-level support Ciudad Juárez received from the Mexican and U.S. governments; community and private sector ownership of the effort; and coordination that occurred between various levels of the Mexican government.58 The strategy was not well targeted, however, and monitoring and evaluation of its effectiveness has been relatively weak. 55 Each of these forces has committed human rights violations and exhibited corruption. 56 Key sectors that CoL programs seek to involve include law enforcement, security forces, and other public officials; the media; schools; and religious and cultural institutions. The U.S. government is supporting school-based “culture of lawfulness” programs, as well as “culture of lawfulness” courses that are being taught to federal and state police. 57 While many analysts credit the decline in violence to the end of a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juárez DTOs, federal and local officials have variously taken credit for the reduction. See, for example, “Looking back on the Calderón Years,” The Economist, November 22, 2012. 58 Lucy Conger, “The Private Sector and Public Security: The Cases of Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey,” Building Resilient Communities: Civic Responses to Violent Organized Crime in Mexico (Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute and the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego, 2014). For lessons learned, see International Crisis Group, Back From the Brink, Saving Ciudad Juárez, February 2015. Congressional Research Service 17 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond In April 2011, the U.S. and Mexican governments formally approved a bi-national pillar four strategy focused on (1) strengthening federal civic planning capacity to prevent and reduce crime; (2) bolstering the capacity of state and local governments to implement crime prevention and reduction activities; and (3) increasing engagement with at-risk youth. U.S.-funded pillar four activities were designed to complement the work of Mexico’s National Center for Crime Prevention and Citizen Participation, an entity (since renamed) within the Interior Department that implements prevention projects in high crime areas. U.S. support for pillar four has exceeded $100 million. In support of this new strategy, USAID has dedicated $50 million for a crime and violence prevention program in nine target communities identified by the Mexican government in Ciudad Juárez, Monterrey, Nuevo León, and Tijuana, Baja California. The program has supported the development of community strategies to reduce crime and violence in the target localities, including outreach to at-risk youth, improved citizen-police collaboration, and partnerships between public and private sector entities. It included funding for an evaluation of crime in the target communities that will help enable both governments to identify successful models for replication. USAID also awarded local grants to civil society organizations for innovative crime prevention projects that engage at-risk youth and their families. Pillar four appears to be a top priority for the Peña Nieto government, and future bilateral efforts will likely seek to complement Mexico’s National Crime and Violence Prevention Program. As previously stated, that program involves federal interventions in municipalities in high crime areas. To bolster those interventions, USAID may expand the geographic areas in which it is supporting violence prevention programs. The State Department is supporting other key elements of pillar four: drug demand reduction, culture of lawfulness programs, and efforts to help citizens hold government entities accountable. U.S.-funded training and technical assistance provided by the Inter-American Drug Control Commission has helped Mexico develop a curriculum and train hundreds of drug counselors, conduct research, and expand drug treatment courts throughout the country. U.S. support has also enabled the establishment of community anti-drug coalitions in Mexico. As Mexico has made culture of lawfulness education a required part of middle school curriculum, U.S. support has helped that curriculum reach more than 800,000 students during the 2013-2014 school year.59 U.S. assistance has helped a Mexican nongovernment organization establish citizens’ watch booths in district attorney’s offices in Mexico City and surrounding areas that have helped people report crime, be made aware of their rights, and monitor the services provided by those government entities. Issues Measuring the Success of the Mérida Initiative With little publicly available information on what specific metrics the U.S. and Mexican governments are using to measure the impact of the Mérida Initiative, analysts have debated how bilateral efforts should be evaluated. How one evaluates the Mérida Initiative largely depends on 59 U.S. Embassy, February 2014. Congressional Research Service 18 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond how one has defined the goals of the program. While the U.S. and Mexican governments’ longterm goals for the Mérida Initiative may be similar, their short-term goals and priorities may be different. For example, both countries may strive to ultimately reduce the overarching threat posed by the DTOs—a national security threat to Mexico and an organized crime threat to the United States. However, their short-term goals may differ; Mexico may focus more on reducing drug trafficking-related crime and violence, while the United States may place more emphasis on aggressively capturing DTO leaders and seizing illicit drugs. One basic measure by which Congress has evaluated the Mérida Initiative has been the pace of equipment deliveries and training opportunities. A December 2009 GAO report identified several factors that had slowed the pace of Mérida implementation.60 It is unclear, though, whether more expeditious equipment deliveries to Mexico have resulted in a more positive evaluation of Mérida. Moreover, if equipment is not adequately maintained, its long-term impact could be reduced. Measures of the volume of training programs administered, including the number of individuals completing each course, have also been used to measure Mérida success. This measure is imperfect, however, as it does not capture the impact that a particular training course had on an individuals’ performance. U.S. agencies are generally not currently measuring retention rates for those whom they have trained; some agencies have identified high turnover rates within the agencies as an obstacle for the sustainability of U.S. training programs.61 U.S.-funded anti-drug programs in source and transit countries (of which Mexico is both) have also traditionally been evaluated by examining the number of DTO leaders arrested and the amount of drugs and other illicit items seized, along with the price and purity of drugs in the United States. Some analysts have attributed increased arrests and certain drug seizures (i.e., cocaine and methamphetamine) to success of the Mérida Initiative. Others have also highlighted the downward trend (since 2006) of cocaine availability and purity in the United States as evidence of the success of Mérida and other U.S.-funded antidrug efforts. However, changes in arrest trends, seizure data, and drug prices or purity may not be directly related to U.S.-Mexican efforts to combat the DTOs. President Enrique Peña Nieto has vowed to reduce drug trafficking-related violence and crimes such as kidnapping and extortion. Should trends in drug trafficking-related deaths, extortions, or kidnapping in Mexico be used as indicators of success or failure for the Mérida Initiative? In addition to a decline in drug trafficking-related violence and crime, analysts have suggested that success in pillars two and four would be evidenced by, among other things, increases in popular trust in the police and courts. Measuring citizens’ perceptions on crime and violence, on the one hand, as well as governmental effectiveness, on the other, could also prove useful. Extraditions Another example of Mérida success—in the form of bilateral cooperation—cited by the State Department is the high number of extraditions from Mexico to the United States. Extraditions to 60 Government Accountability Office, Status of Funds for the Mérida Initiative, 10-253R, December 3, 2009. U.S. Agency for International Development, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, and Coordination Council for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice System and its Technical Secretariat (SETEC); Executive Summary of the General Report: Monitoring the Implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform in Chihuahua, the State of Mexico, Morelos, Oaxaca, and Zacatecas: 2007-2011, November 2012. 61 Congressional Research Service 19 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond the United States had started to increase under former President Vicente Fox (2000-2006), who like Felipe Calderón was from the opposition PAN, and reached 63 in 2006. Starting at 83 in 2007, in the six full years of the Calderón Administration, extraditions rose to nearly 100 a year. Cooperation on extraditions peaked in 2012, the final year of the Calderón government, with 115 favorable responses to U.S. extradition requests. Figure 3. Individuals Extradited from Mexico to the United States 1995-2014 115 120 107 95 100 94 93 Extraditions 83 80 66 63 54 60 41 40 25 20 4 13 13 12 14 12 31 34 17 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 0 Sources: U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of State. In 2013, the number of extraditions declined to 54. Given the transition to a new administration in Mexico, there are several possible reasons for that decline. According to Mexican officials, extradition requests from the United States to Mexico declined from 108 in 2012 to 88 in 2013. Moreover, the Calderón government did not leave a large backlog of cases waiting to be processed in 2013.62 In addition, the Mexican government may be attempting to show that the Mexican justice system, which is in the process of being reformed, is capable of arresting, trying, and convicting drug traffickers.63 In 2014, extraditions from Mexico rose to 66. Drug Production and Interdiction in Mexico Drug eradication and alternative development programs have not been a focus of the Mérida Initiative even though Mexico is a major producer of opium poppy (used to produce heroin), methamphetamine, cannabis (marijuana). According to U.S. government estimates, opium production has surged in Mexico as cannabis production has fallen. In addition, despite Mexican government import restrictions on precursor chemicals and efforts to seize precursor chemicals and dismantle clandestine labs, the production of methamphetamine has continued at high levels. 62 CRS interview with Mexican official, March 13, 2014. Mark Stevenson, Alicia A. Caldwell, and Adriana Gomez Licon, “Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Charged in Mexico,” Associated Press, February 24, 2014. 63 Congressional Research Service 20 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond The Mexican government has engaged its military in drug crop eradication efforts since the 1930s, but personnel constraints have inhibited recent eradication efforts. Increases in drug production have occurred as the government assigned more military forces to public security functions, including anti-DTO operations, than to drug crop eradication efforts. Should Mexicans become increasingly wary of the government’s strategy of using the military to perform police functions, there may be calls for the troops to return to more traditional anti-drug functions. Similarly, if drug production in Mexico further expands, particularly production of the potent “black tar” variety of heroin, U.S. policymakers may debate whether to direct some Mérida assistance to support eradication efforts in Mexico. The State Department is already in negotiations with the government of Mexico to direct some funding toward helping with drug crop eradication. The Mexican government has not traditionally provided support for alternative development, even though many drug-producing regions of the country are impoverished rural areas where few licit employment opportunities exist. Alternative development programs have traditionally sought to provide positive incentives for farmers to abandon drug crop cultivation in lieu of farming other crops, but may be designed more broadly to assist any individuals who collaborated with DTOs out of economic necessity to adopt alternative means of employment. In Colombia, studies have found that the combination of jointly implemented eradication, alternative development, and interdiction is more effective than the independent application of any one of these three strategies.64 Despite those findings, alternative development often takes years to show results and requires a long-term commitment to promoting rural development, two factors which may lessen its appeal as a policy tool for Mexico. While Mexico has made arresting drug kingpins a top priority, it has not given equal attention to the need to increase drug seizures. The State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Reports covering 201365 asserted that less than two percent of the cocaine estimated to transit Mexico is seized by Mexican authorities. The State Department has provided canines and inspection equipment for interdiction at Mexico’s borders and ports of entry that has helped increase seizures, yet cocaine seizures in Central American countries often exceed Mexico’s cocaine interdiction figures. Human Rights Concerns and Conditions on Mérida Initiative Funding There have been ongoing concerns about the human rights records of Mexico’s military and police, particularly given the aforementioned cases (Tlatlaya, Iguala) involving allegations of their involvement in torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. The State Department’s annual human rights reports covering Mexico have cited credible reports of police involvement in extrajudicial killings, kidnappings for ransom, and torture.66 There has also been concern that the Mexican military has committed more human rights abuses since being tasked 64 Vanda Felbab-Brown, Joel M. Jutkowitz, Sergio Rivas, et al. Assessment of the Implementation of the United States Government’s Support for Plan Colombia’s Illicit Crop Reduction Components, report produced for review by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), April 17, 2009. 65 The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report covering 2014 does not contain a similar estimate. 66 U.S. Department of State, Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2012: Mexico, April 2013; State Department, Country Report: Mexico, February 2014. Congressional Research Service 21 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond with carrying out public security functions. According to Mexico’s Human Rights Commission (Commisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos or CNDH), complaints of human rights abuses by Mexico’s Department of Defense (SEDENA) increased from 182 in 2006 to a peak of 1,800 in 2009 before falling since that time. Complaints of abuses against the Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR) increased by 150% from 2010 to 2011 as its forces became more heavily involved in anti-DTO efforts, before decreasing.67 While troubling, only a small percentage of those allegations have resulted in the CNDH issuing recommendations for corrective action to SEDENA and SEMAR, which those agencies have largely accepted.68 In addition to expressing concerns about current abuses, Mexican and international human rights groups have criticized the Mexican government for failing to hold military and police officials accountable for past abuses. In May 2014, Mexico revised the country’s military justice code to comply with rulings by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and decisions by Mexico’s Supreme Court affirming that cases of military abuses against civilians should be tried in civilian courts. Implementation of that legal change is likely to be closely monitored. Congress has expressed ongoing concerns about human rights conditions in Mexico. These concerns have intensified as U.S. security assistance to Mexico has increased under the Mérida Initiative. Congress has continued monitoring adherence to the “Leahy” vetting requirements that must be met under the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961 as amended (22 U.S.C. 2378d)69 and annual Department of Defense (DOD) appropriations70 in order for Mexican security forces71 to receive U.S. support.72 Since FY2008, Congress has also conditioned U.S. assistance to the Mexican military and police on compliance with certain human rights standards. The FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113-235) requires that 15% of certain International Narcotics and Law Enforcement and Foreign Military Financing assistance be withheld until the Secretary of State reports in writing that: 1. the Government of Mexico is investigating and prosecuting violations of human rights in civilian courts; 2. the Government of Mexico is enforcing prohibitions against torture and the use of testimony obtained through torture; 67 These figures are from CNDH’s annual activity reports. They are available in Spanish at http://www.cndh.org.mx/ Informes_Actividades 68 In 2013, for example, the 811 complaints filed with CNDH against SEDENA resulted in 3 recommendations. 69 The codified Leahy law (22 U.S.C. 2378d) prohibits the furnishing of assistance authorized by the FAA and the Arms Export Control Act, as amended, (AECA) to any foreign security force unit that is credibly believed to have committed a gross violation of human rights. 70 A provision in the annual DOD appropriations legislation prohibits the use of DOD funds to support any training program involving a unit of a foreign security or police force if the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights. P.L. 113-76 expands that prohibition to cover DOD equipment assistance programs as well. 71 There is no FAA definition for the term “security force.” DOD defines the term as “duly constituted military, paramilitary, police, and constabulary forces of a state.”(DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, DOD Joint Publication 1-02, http://www.dtic.mil.) 72 CRS Report R43361, “Leahy Law” Human Rights Provisions and Security Assistance: Issue Overview, coordinated by Nina M. Serafino. Congressional Research Service 22 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond 3. the Mexican army and police are promptly transferring detainees to the custody of civilian judicial authorities, in accordance with Mexican law, and are cooperating with such authorities in such cases; and, 4. the Government of Mexico is searching for the victims of forced disappearances and is investigating and prosecuting those responsible for such crimes. Human rights groups initially expressed satisfaction that President Peña Nieto had adopted a prohuman rights discourse and promulgated a law requiring state support for crime victims and their families. If in 2013 they were underwhelmed with his government’s efforts to promote and protect human rights, they have vigorously criticized the government’s handling of high-profile cases of alleged abuses in 2014 and the lack of protection it has provided for groups vulnerable to abuses (journalists, human rights defenders, migrants).73 Some have therefore urged U.S. policymakers to more closely monitor the Peña Nieto government’s compliance with conditions on Mérida assistance.74 How the Peña Nieto government moves to improve the ability of Mexico’s civilian institutions to investigate and prosecute cases of human rights abuses by security forces, enhance enforcement of prohibitions against torture and other mistreatment, and strengthen protection for human rights defenders, the media, migrants, and other vulnerable groups is likely to be closely scrutinized. The State Department has established a high-level human rights dialogue with Mexico, provided human rights training for Mexican security forces, and implemented a number of human rightsrelated programs. USAID has supported a $5 million program being implemented by Freedom House to improve protections for Mexican journalists and human rights defenders. Human rights groups have acknowledged these efforts, but have criticized the U.S. government for failing to enforce Mérida’s human rights restrictions. Congress may choose to augment Mérida Initiative funding for human rights programs, such as ongoing training programs for military and police, or newer efforts, such as support for human rights organizations. Human rights conditions in Mexico, as well as compliance with conditions on Mérida assistance, are also likely to continue to be important oversight issues. As funds are provided to help secure Mexico’s southern border, Congress may additionally consider how to help mitigate concerns about migrants’ rights in Mexico.75 Role of the U.S. Department Of Defense in Mexico In contrast to Plan Colombia, the Mérida Initiative does not include an active U.S. military presence in Mexico, largely due to Mexican concerns about national sovereignty stemming from past conflicts with the United States. The Department of Defense (DOD) did not play a primary 73 José Miguel Vivanco, Mexico: President’s Disappointing First Year on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, November 26, 2013; Clay Boggs and Maureen Meyer, “Human Rights Crisis in Mexico Demands Stronger Response from Mexican Government,” WOLA, December 9, 2014; WOLA and Peace Brigades International, The Mechanism to Protect Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities, February 3, 2015; Adam Isaacson, Maureen Meyer, and Gabriela Morales, Security, Migration, and the Humanitarian Crisis at the Line with Central America, WOLA, June 2014. 74 Restrictions on certain aid to Mexico’s military and police have been included in each of the Mérida appropriations measures since P.L. 110-252. See CRS Report R41349, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond. 75 See CRS Report IF10215, Mexico’s Recent Immigration Enforcement Efforts, by Clare Ribando Seelke. Congressional Research Service 23 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond role in designing the Mérida Initiative and is not providing assistance through Mérida accounts. However, DOD oversaw the procurement and delivery of equipment provided through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) account, which was part of Mérida until FY2012. Despite DOD’s limited role in the Mérida Initiative, military cooperation between the two countries has been increasing, as have DOD training and equipment programs to support the Mexican military.76 DOD has sent unmanned aerial vehicles into Mexico to gather intelligence on criminal organizations. DOD is also providing training and equipment to Mexican military forces patrolling the country’s southern borders. More broadly, DOD assistance aims to support Mexico’s efforts to improve security in high-crime areas, track and capture DTO operatives, strengthen border security, and disrupt illicit flows. There are a variety of funding streams that support DOD training and equipment programs. Some DOD equipment programs are funded by annual State Department appropriations for FMF, which totaled $6.6 million in FY2014. For their part, International Military Education and Training (IMET) funds, which totaled $1.4 million in FY2014, support training programs for the Mexican military, including courses provided in the United States (see Appendix). Apart from the Mérida Initiative and other State Department funding, DOD has its own legislative authorities to provide counterdrug assistance. That funding is not subject to the same human rights conditions as State Department appropriations. Programs in Mexico are overseen by U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which is located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. DOD counternarcotics support to Mexico totaled some $68.8 million in FY2013 and $50.8 million in FY2014. The aforementioned counternarcotics funding has enabled NORTHCOM to train and equip an increasing number of Mexican military personnel. In FY2014, NORTHCOM trained 3,358 military personnel, up from 2,959 in FY2013. Training has included courses on information fusion, surveillance, interdiction, cyber security, logistics, and professional development. Equipping efforts provided non-lethal equipment (such as communications tools, aircraft modifications, night vision, boats, etc.) to support those training courses. Policymakers may want to receive periodic briefings on DOD efforts in order to guarantee that DOD programs are being adequately coordinated with Mérida Initiative efforts, complying with U.S. vetting requirements, and not reinforcing the militarization of public security in Mexico. Balancing Assistance to Mexico with Support for Southwest Border Initiatives The Mérida Initiative was designed to complement domestic efforts to combat drug demand, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, and money laundering. These domestic counter-drug initiatives are funded through regular and supplemental appropriations for a variety of U.S. domestic agencies. As the strategy underpinning the Mérida Initiative has expanded to include efforts to build a more modern border (pillar three) and to strengthen border communities (pillar four), 76 Richard D. Downie, “Critical Decisions in Mexico: the Future of U.S./Mexican Defense Relations,” Strategic Issues in U.S.-Latin American Relations, vol. 1, no. 1 (July 2011). Congressional Research Service 24 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond policy makers may consider how best to balance the amount of funding provided to Mexico with support for related domestic initiatives. Regarding support for law enforcement efforts, some would argue that there needs to be more federal support for states and localities on the U.S. side of the border that are dealing with crime and violence originating in Mexico. Of those who endorse that point of view, some are encouraged that the Obama Administration has increased manpower and technology along the border, whereas others maintain that the Administration’s efforts have been insufficient to secure the border.77 In contrast, some maintain that it is impossible to combat transnational criminal enterprises by solely focused on the U.S. side of the border, and that domestic programs must be accompanied by continued efforts to build the capacity of Mexican law enforcement officials. They maintain that if recent U.S. efforts are perceived as an attempt to “militarize” the border, they may damage U.S.-Mexican relations and hinder bilateral security cooperation efforts. Mexican officials from across the political spectrum have expressed concerns about the construction of border fencing and the effects of border enforcement on migrant deaths.78 With respect to pillar four of the updated strategy, as previously mentioned, Mexico and the United States have supported programs to strengthen communities in Ciudad Juárez, Monterrey, and Tijuana. In targeting those communities most affected by the violence, greater efforts will necessarily be placed on community-building in Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana than on their sister cities in the United States. However, if the U.S. government provides aid to these communities in Mexico, some may argue that there should also be federal support for the adjacent U.S. border cities. For example, initiatives aimed at providing youth with education, employment, and social outlets might reduce the allure of joining a DTO or local gang. Some may contend that increasing these services on the U.S. side of the border as well as the Mexican side could be beneficial. Integrating Counterdrug Programs in the Western Hemisphere U.S. State Department-funded counterdrug assistance programs in the Western Hemisphere are currently in transition. Counterdrug assistance to Colombia and the Andean region is in decline after record assistance levels that began with U.S. support for Plan Colombia in FY2000 and peaked in the mid-2000s. Anti-drug aid to Mexico increased dramatically in FY2008-FY2010 as a result of the Mérida Initiative, but has since been reduced as well. Conversely, funding for Central America has increased as a result of the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI);79 it could increase even more should Congress fund the Obama Administration’s $1 billion FY2016 request for that subregion.80 Support for the Caribbean increased in FY2010 and has remained relatively stable due to the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). The Obama Administration has taken steps to coordinate the aforementioned country and regional antidrug programs and to ensure that U.S.-funded efforts complement the efforts of partner 77 For a fuller discussion of U.S. border enforcement efforts, see CRS Report R42138, Border Security: Immigration Enforcement Between Ports of Entry, by Lisa Seghetti. 78 See, for example, Marc R. Rosenblum, Obstacles and Opportunities for Regional Cooperation: the U.S.-Mexico Case, Migration Policy Institute, April 2011. 79 CRS Report R41731, Central America Regional Security Initiative: Background and Policy Issues for Congress, by Peter J. Meyer and Clare Ribando Seelke. 80 CRS Report IN10237, President Obama’s $1 Billion Foreign Aid Request for Central America, by Peter J. Meyer and Clare Ribando Seelke. Congressional Research Service 25 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond governments and other donors. The Administration has appointed a coordinator within the State Department (the Principal Deputy Assistance Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs) to oversee the planning and implementation of the aforementioned security assistance packages. The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the National Security Council conduct annual reviews of counterdrug efforts in the Americas. ONDCP and the State Department use a high-level committee process to oversee programming and planning. The Administration is encouraging countries that have received U.S. assistance in the past—particularly Colombia—to share technical expertise with other countries in the region, a strategy that analysts have recommended. One area in which closer cooperation between the United States, partner governments, and other donors will likely be necessary is in efforts to better secure the porous Mexico-Guatemala and Mexico-Belize borders. Outlook Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto began his Administration focused on enacting economic reforms. By 2014, it became clear that Peña Nieto’s economic agenda could not be successful without addressing the rule of law challenges that have long held the country back. Moreover, Peña Nieto’s mishandling of several high-profile cases of human rights abuses allegedly involving security officials has increased pressure on him and his government to strengthen the country’s criminal justice institutions and to demonstrate the leadership and political will necessary to address crime and corruption. While some observers maintain that U.S. assistance could be helpful, they stress that the outcome of Mexico’s reform efforts will depend upon the governments’ political will to address issues of corruption and impunity. Possible questions for oversight of the Mérida Initiative may include 1) To what extent is the Mexican government moving judicial and police reform efforts forward, and how is U.S. assistance supporting those reforms? 2) How is the State Department measuring the efficacy of Mérida programs and improving or eliminating ineffective programs? 3) Are Mérida-funded programs helping the Mexican government respond to new challenges and priorities, including securing its southern border? 4) Is Mexico meeting the human rights conditions placed on Mérida Initiative funding? Congressional Research Service 26 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond Appendix. U.S. Assistance to Mexico Table A-1. U.S. Assistance to Mexico by Account, FY2010-FY2016 (U.S. $ millions) Account INCLE FY2010 FY2011 FY2012 FY2013 FY2014 (est.) FY2015 (req.) FY2015 (est.) FY2016 (req.) 365.0 117.0 248.5 195.1 148.1 80.0 148.0 80.0 ESF 15.0 18.0 33.3 32.1 46.8 35.0 46.0 39.0 FMF 5.3 8.0 7.0 6.6 6.6 5.0 7.0 7.0 IMET 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.5 n/a 1.5 NADR 3.9 5.7 5.4 3.8 3.9 2.9 n/a 0.0 GHCS 3.5 3.5 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 10.0 25.0 33.4 26.2 0.0 12.5 0.0 12.5 403.7 178.2 329.6 265.0 206.8 136.9 201.0 140.0 DA TOTAL Sources: U.S. Department of State, Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations FY2010-FY2016. Notes: GHCS=Global Health and Child Survival; DA=Development Assistance; ESF=Economic Support Fund; FMF=Foreign Military Financing; IMET=International Military Education and Training; INCLE=International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement; NADR=Non-proliferation, Anti-terrorism and Related Programs. Funds are accounted for in the fiscal year for which they were appropriated as noted below: a. This estimate is based on the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 113235). It does not include funding provided for Mexico in the IMET or NADR accounts. Author Contact Information Clare Ribando Seelke Specialist in Latin American Affairs cseelke@crs.loc.gov, 7-5229 Congressional Research Service Kristin Finklea Specialist in Domestic Security kfinklea@crs.loc.gov, 7-6259 27Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs December 29, 2015 Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL32048 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Summary Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests, including the security of the Persian Gulf region. In 2014, a common adversary emerged in the form of the Islamic State organization, reducing gaps in U.S. and Iranian regional interests, although the two countries have often differed over how to try to defeat the group and still disagree on many other issues. The finalization on July 14, 2015, of a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) between Iran and six negotiating powers could enhance Iran’s ability to counter the United States and its allies in the region, but could also pave the way for cooperation to resolve regional conflicts. During the 1980s and 1990s, U.S. officials identified Iran’s support for militant Middle East groups as a significant threat to U.S. interests and allies. The perception of threat from Iran increased in 2002 with confirmation that Iran was adding aspects to its nuclear program that could be used to develop a nuclear weapon. The United States orchestrated broad international economic pressure on Iran to try to ensure that the program would be verifiably confined to purely peaceful purposes. The international pressure contributed to the June 2013 election of the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran He subsequently negotiated the November 2013 interim nuclear agreement, the April 2, 2015, framework for a comprehensive nuclear agreement, and the JCPOA. The JCPOA, which entered into force on October 18, 2015, stipulates steps to give the international community confidence that it would take Iran at least a year to produce a nuclear weapon, were Iran to try to do so, in exchange for relief from most of the international sanctions imposed on Iran since 2010. The JCPOA has the potential to improve U.S.-Iran relations, but relations with Iran on regional issues have worsened in some respects since the agreement was finalized. In October and November 2015, Iran tested ballistic missiles that appear to constitute violations of applicable U.N. Security Council resolutions. Iran has also increased its involvement in the Syria conflict in support of President Bashar Al Assad of Syria, whose brutal tactics against domestic armed opponents is, according to U.S. officials, fueling support for the Islamic State organization with brutal tactics. Iran’s actions have strengthened the assertions of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman) and other U.S. allies such as Israel that the JCPOA will furnish Iran with additional political and financial resources to expand its regional influence. The United States and the GCC states have a long-standing and extensive security relationship that enables the United States to maintain about 35,000 military personnel at facilities throughout the Gulf. To try to reassure the GCC that Iran’s regional influence can and will be contained, U.S. officials have held several high level meetings with GCC leaders to increase security cooperation, including discussion of additional arms sales. The United States is helping a GCC-led Arab coalition combat an Iran-backed rebel Houthi movement in Yemen, and the United States permits GCC countries to supply U.S.-made weaponry to factions fighting the Iran and Russia-supported regime of Bashar Al Assad of Syria. Domestically, Rouhani and the JCPOA appear to have broad support, but many Iranians say they also want greater easing of media and social restrictions. Iran’s judiciary remains in the hands of hardliners who continue to prosecute dissenters and hold several U.S.-Iran dual nationals on various charges—including U.S.-Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian. Another dual national was arrested after the JCPOA was finalized. The United States has supported programs to promote civil society in Iran, but successive U.S. administrations have stopped short of adopting policies that specifically seek to overthrow Iran’s regime. See also CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr; CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman; and CRS Report R44017, Iran’s Foreign Policy, by Kenneth Katzman. Congressional Research Service Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Contents Political History............................................................................................................................... 1 U.S.-Iran Relations since the Iranian Revolution ...................................................................... 2 Regime Structure, Stability, and Opposition ................................................................................... 4 Unelected or Indirectly Elected Institutions: The Supreme Leader, Council of Guardians, and Expediency Council ...................................................................................... 6 The Supreme Leader ........................................................................................................... 6 Council of Guardians and Expediency Council .................................................................. 6 Elected Institutions and Recent Elections ................................................................................. 9 The Presidency .................................................................................................................. 10 The Majles ........................................................................................................................ 10 The Assembly of Experts .................................................................................................. 10 Elections since 1989 and Their Implications ..................................................................... 11 Human Rights Practices .......................................................................................................... 14 The Strategic Challenge Posed by Iran ......................................................................................... 17 Nuclear Program and International Response ......................................................................... 18 Iran’s Nuclear Intentions and Activities ............................................................................ 18 International Diplomatic Efforts to Address Iran’s Nuclear Program ............................... 20 Developments during the Obama Administration ............................................................. 22 Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missile Programs ............................................................. 23 Chemical and Biological Weapons ................................................................................... 23 Missiles and Warheads ...................................................................................................... 24 Conventional and “Asymmetric Warfare” Capability ................................................................... 25 Asymmetric Warfare Capacity/Threat to the Gulf .................................................................. 26 Power Projection through Allies and Proxies: the Qods Force ............................................... 29 U.S. Policy Responses and Options .............................................................................................. 29 Obama Administration Policy: Pressure Coupled with Engagement ...................................... 29 Military Options and U.S. Defense Posture in the Persian Gulf and ...................................... 31 Military Options to Prevent a Nuclear Iran ....................................................................... 31 U.S. Partnership with the Gulf States to Counter Iran ...................................................... 32 GCC Military Capacity and U.S. Deployments in the Gulf.............................................. 34 Potential for Israeli Military Action Against Iran ............................................................. 39 Economic Sanctions ................................................................................................................ 39 Further Option: Regime Change ............................................................................................. 41 Democracy Promotion and Internet Freedom Efforts ....................................................... 42 Figures Figure 1. Structure of the Iranian Government.............................................................................. 47 Figure 2. Map of Iran .................................................................................................................... 48 Tables Table 1. Major Factions, Personalities, and Interest Groups ........................................................... 7 Table 2. Human Rights Practices: General Categories .................................................................. 15 Congressional Research Service Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Table 3. Iran’s Missile Arsenal ...................................................................................................... 25 Table 4. Iran’s Conventional Military Arsenal .............................................................................. 27 Table 5. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ............................................................ 28 Table 6. Military Assets of the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States ................................... 38 Table 7. Selected Economic Indicators.......................................................................................... 40 Table 8. Summary of Existing U.S. Sanctions Against Iran .......................................................... 40 Table 9. Iran Democracy Promotion Funding ............................................................................... 44 Contacts Author Contact Information .......................................................................................................... 49 Congressional Research Service Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Political History Iran is a country of nearly 80 million people, located in the heart of the Persian Gulf region. The United States was an ally of the late Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (“the Shah”), who ruled from 1941 until his ouster in February 1979. The Shah assumed the throne when Britain and Russia forced his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi (Reza Shah), from power because of his perceived alignment with Germany in World War II. Reza Shah had assumed power in 1921 when, as an officer in Iran’s only military force, the Cossack Brigade (reflecting Russian influence in Iran in the early 20th century), he launched a coup against the government of the Qajar royal family, which had ruled since 1794. Reza Shah was proclaimed Shah in 1925, founding the Pahlavi dynasty. The Qajar dynasty had been in decline for many years before Reza Shah’s takeover. That dynasty’s perceived manipulation by Britain and Russia had been one of the causes of the 1906 constitutionalist movement, which forced the Qajar dynasty to form Iran’s first Majles (parliament) in August 1906 and promulgate a constitution in December 1906. Prior to the Qajars, what is now Iran was the center of several Persian empires and dynasties whose reach had shrunk steadily over time. After the 16th century, Iranian empires lost control of Bahrain (1521), Baghdad (1638), the Caucasus (1828), western Afghanistan (1857), Baluchistan (1872), and what is now Turkmenistan (1894). Iran adopted Shiite Islam under the Safavid Dynasty (1500-1722), which ended a series of Turkic and Mongol conquests. The Shah was anti-Communist, and the United States viewed his government as a bulwark against the expansion of Soviet influence in the Persian Gulf and a counterweight to pro-Soviet Arab regimes and movements. Israel maintained a representative office in Iran during the Shah’s time and the Shah supported a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute. In 1951, under pressure from nationalists in the Majles (parliament) who gained strength in the 1949 Majles elections, he appointed a popular nationalist parliamentarian, Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq, as prime minister. Mossadeq was widely considered left-leaning, and the United States was wary of his drive for nationalization of the oil industry, which had been controlled since 1913 by the AngloPersian Oil Company. His followers began an uprising in August 1953 when the Shah tried to dismiss him, and the Shah fled. The Shah was restored to power in a CIA-supported uprising that toppled Mossadeq (“Operation Ajax”) on August 19, 1953. The Shah tried to modernize Iran and orient it toward the West, but in so doing he alienated religious Iranians and the Shiite clergy. He also allegedly tolerated severe repression and torture of dissidents by his SAVAK intelligence service. The Shah exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1964 because of Khomeini’s active opposition to what he asserted were the Shah’s anti-clerical policies and forfeiture of Iran’s sovereignty to the United States. Khomeini fled to and taught in Najaf, Iraq, a major Shiite theological center. In 1978, three years after the March 6, 1975, Algiers Accords between the Shah and Iraq’s Baathist leaders that temporarily ended mutual hostile actions, Iraq expelled Khomeini to France, where he continued to agitate for revolution that would establish Islamic government in Iran. Mass demonstrations and guerrilla activity by proKhomeini forces caused the Shah’s government to collapse. Khomeini returned from France on February 1, 1979, and, on February 11, 1979, he declared an Islamic Republic of Iran. Khomeini’s concept of velayat-e-faqih (rule by a supreme Islamic jurisprudent, or “Supreme Leader”) was enshrined in the constitution that was adopted in a public referendum in December 1979 (and amended in 1989). The constitution provided for the post of Supreme Leader of the Revolution. The regime based itself on strong opposition to Western influence, and relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic turned openly hostile after the November 4, 1979, seizure of the U.S. Embassy and its U.S. diplomats by pro-Khomeini radicals, which began Congressional Research Service 1 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy the so-called hostage crisis that ended in January 1981 with the release of the hostages.1 Ayatollah Khomeini died on June 3, 1989, and was succeeded as Supreme Leader by Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i. The regime faced serious unrest in its first few years, including a June 1981 bombing at the headquarters of the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) and the prime minister’s office that killed several senior elected and clerical leaders, including then Prime Minister Javad Bahonar, elected President Ali Raja’i, and IRP head and top Khomeini disciple Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Beheshti. The regime used these events, along with the hostage crisis with the United States, to justify purging many of the secular, liberal, and left-wing personalities that had been prominent in the years just after the revolution. Examples included the regime’s first Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan; the pro-Moscow Tudeh Party (Communist), the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, see below), and the first elected President Abolhassan Bani Sadr. The regime was under economic and military threat during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, which resulted at times in nearly halting Iran’s oil exports. Since that war, Iran has not faced severe external military threat but domestic political rifts have continued. U.S.-Iran Relations since the Iranian Revolution The February 11, 1979, fall of the Shah of Iran, who was a key U.S. ally, opened a deep and ongoing rift in U.S.-Iranian relations. The Carter Administration sought to engage the Islamic regime, which initially had numerous moderates in senior posts, but this ended after the November 4, 1979, takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by radical pro-Khomeini “students in the line of the Imam (Khomeini).” The radicals held 66 U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days, releasing them minutes after President Reagan’s inauguration on January 20, 1981. The United States broke relations with Iran on April 7, 1980, two weeks prior to a failed U.S. military attempt to rescue the hostages. Iran has an interest section in Washington, DC, under the auspices of the Embassy of Pakistan, and staffed by Iranian Americans. The former Iranian Embassy closed in April 1980 when the two countries broke diplomatic relations, and remains under the control of the State Department. Iran’s Mission to the United Nations in New York runs most of Iran’s diplomacy inside the United States. The U.S. interest section in Tehran, under the auspices of the Embassy of Switzerland, has no American personnel. The former U.S. embassy is now used as a museum commemorating the revolution and as a headquarters for the Basij – an internal security force that is controlled by the generally hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Reagan Administration. The Reagan Administration designated Iran a “state sponsor of terrorism” in January 1984, primarily because of Iran’s support for Lebanese Hezbollah. The designation reinforced a U.S “tilt” toward Iraq in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, which included diplomatic efforts to block conventional arms sales to Iran.2 During 1987-1988, U.S. naval forces engaged in several skirmishes with Iranian naval elements in the course of U.S. efforts to protect international oil shipments in the Gulf from Iranian mines and other attacks. On April 18, 1988 Iran lost one-quarter of its larger naval ships in an engagement with the U.S. Navy (“Operation Praying Mantis”), including a frigate sunk. However, the Administration to some extent 1 The U.S. Embassy hostages are to be compensated for their detention in Iran from proceeds received from various banks to settle allegations of concealing financial transactions on behalf of Iranian clients, under a provision of the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriation (P.L. 114-113). 2 Elaine Sciolino, The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein’s Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1991), p. 168. Congressional Research Service 2 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy undermined its efforts to contain Iran by providing some arms to Iran (“TOW” anti-tank weapons and I-Hawk air defense equipment) as part of an effort to enlist Tehran’s help in compelling Hezbollah to release U.S. hostages in held in Lebanon. On July 3, 1988, U.S. forces in the Gulf mistakenly shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Gulf, killing all 290 on board. George H. W. Bush Administration. President George H.W. Bush laid the groundwork for a rapprochement with Iran in his January 1989 inaugural speech, in which he said that “goodwill begets goodwill” with respect to Iran. The comments were interpreted as offering to improve relations with Iran if it helped obtain the release of the U.S. hostages in Lebanon. Iran apparently did assist in obtaining their release, and all remaining U.S. hostages there were freed by the end of December 1991. However, no U.S.-Iran thaw followed, possibly because Iran continued to back groups opposed to Israel and Middle East peace. Clinton Administration. Upon taking office in 1993, the Clinton Administration announced a strategy of “dual containment” of Iran and Iraq—attempting to keep both weak rather than alternately tilting to one or the other. In 1995 and 1996, the Clinton Administration and Congress banned U.S. trade and investment with Iran and imposed penalties on investment in Iran’s energy sector (Iran Sanctions Act) in response to growing concerns about Iran’s weapons of mass destruction and its efforts to subvert the Arab-Israeli peace process. The Clinton Administration expressed skepticism of the EU’s policy of “critical dialogue” with Iran, in which the EU states met with Iran but criticized its human rights policies and its support for militant movements. The unexpected election of the moderate Mohammad Khatemi as president in May 1997 precipitated a U.S. offer of direct dialogue without preconditions, but Khatemi ruled out U.S.-Iran direct talks. In a June 1998 speech, then-Secretary of State Albright called for mutual confidence building measures that could lead to a “road map” for normalization, and in a March 17, 2000, speech, she acknowledged past U.S. meddling in Iran. George W. Bush Administration. Despite limited tacit cooperation with Iran on post-Taliban Afghanistan, President George W. Bush identified Iran as a U.S. adversary by including it as part of an “axis of evil” (along with Iraq and North Korea) in his January 2002 State of the Union message. Later that year, Iran’s nuclear program emerged as a major issue for U.S. policy, and President Bush’s January 20, 2005, second inaugural address and his January 31, 2006, State of the Union message stated that the United States would be a close ally of a free and democratic Iran—reflecting apparent sentiment for changing Iran’s regime.3 The latter statement came after the more hardline Ahmadinejad was elected president in June 2005. On the other hand, reflecting the views of those in the Administration who favored diplomacy, the Administration continued a dialogue with Iran on Afghanistan and expanded the dialogue to include issues facing postSaddam Iraq,4 but did not offer unconditional, direct dialogue on all issues of mutual concern. The United States aided victims of the December 2003 earthquake in Bam, Iran. Some assert that the Bush Administration missed an opportunity for a “grand bargain” with Iran on its nuclear program and regional issues by rebuffing a reported May 2003 Iranian overture, transmitted by the Swiss Ambassador to Iran, for a sweeping agreement (so-called “grand bargain”) on all major outstanding issues of mutual concern.5 However, State Department officials disputed that the proposal had been fully vetted within Iran’s leadership. 3 Helene Cooper and David Sanger, “Strategy on Iran Stirs New Debate at White House,” New York Times, June 16, 2007. 4 Robin Wright, “U.S. In ‘Useful’ Talks With Iran,” Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2003. 5 http://www.armscontrol.org/pdf/2003_Spring_Iran_Proposal.pdf. Congressional Research Service 3 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Regime Structure, Stability, and Opposition Iran’s regime is widely considered authoritarian, although it provides for elected institutions, checks and balances, and diversity of opinion among leaders. The perception of authoritarianism is based largely on the powers invested in the position of “Supreme Leader” (known formally in Iran as “Leader of the Revolution”), who is not directly elected by the population, is not termlimited, and has sweeping powers. The Supreme Leader is, however, chosen by an all-elected body. The President and the Majles (unicameral parliament) are directly elected. There also are elections for municipal councils, which in turn select mayors. Even within the unelected institutions, factional disputes between those who insist on ideological purity and those considered more pragmatic have been frequent. Aside from a 2009-2010 uprising against alleged fraud in the reelection of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the regime has faced only episodic unrest from minorities, intellectuals, students, labor groups, and women. Iran’s minority groups have also been a source of periodic unrest, primarily in the geographic areas where they are concentrated. Persians are about 51% of the population of about 75 million, and the major ethnic minorities are Azeris and Kurds. Shiite Muslims are about 90% of the Muslim population and Sunni Muslims are about 10%. About 2% of the population is non-Muslim, including Christians, Zoroastrians (an ancient religion in what is now Iran), Jewish, and Baha’i. Congressional Research Service 4 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Supreme Leader: Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i Born in July 1939 to an Azeri (Turkic) family from Mashhad. Was jailed by the Shah of Iran for supporting Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. After the regime took power in 1979, helped organize Revolutionary Guard and other security organs. Lost some use of right arm in purported assassination attempt in June 1981. Was elected president in 1981 and served until 1989. Was selected Khomeini’s successor in June 1989. Upon that selection, Khamene’i religious ranking was advanced in official organs to “Grand Ayatollah” from the lower ranking “Hojjat ol-Islam.” Still lacks the undisputed authority to end factional disputes and the public adoration Khomeini had. Has taken more of a day-to-day role since the 2009 uprising, including establishing “red lines” for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team. Policies Throughout career, has consistently taken hardline stances on regional issues, particularly toward Israel, often calling it a cancerous tumor that needs to be excised from the region. In March 2014, publicly questioned whether the Holocaust occurred—an issue highlighted by former president Ahmadinejad. Meets with few Western officials and is avowedly suspicious of relations with the West, particularly the United States, as potentially making Iran vulnerable to Western cultural influence, spying, and possible regime destabilization efforts. Despite supporting most of then president Ahmadinejad’s policies, Khamene’i blocked him from asserting too much presidential authority. Yet, largely bowing to public opinion, Khamene’i acquiesced to the election of the relatively moderate Rouhani, who favors opening to the West. Khamene’i publicly supported the 2013 interim nuclear agreement and did not publicly signal disapproval of the JCPOA, paving the way for its adoption by the Majles and the Council of Guardians. Reputedly issued religious proclamation (2003) against Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, and has publicly (2012) called doing so a “sin,” and is widely believed to fear direct military confrontation with United States on Iranian soil. Fully backs efforts by Revolutionary Guard and other Iranian organs to support pro-Iranian movements and governments, including that of Syria. On economic issues, he has tended to support the business community (bazaaris), and opposed state control of the economy, but believes Iran’s economy is self-sufficient enough to withstand the effects of international sanctions. Potential Successors His office is run by Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, with significant input from Khamene’i’s second and increasingly influential son, Mojtaba. Also advised by Keyhan editor Hossein Shariatmadari and former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. Khamene’i’s health is widely considered good, although the government acknowledged that he underwent prostate surgery in September 2014. Potential successors include former judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahrudi; Expediency Council Chairman and longtime regime stalwart Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani; hardline senior cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi; current Judiciary head Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani; and hardline Tehran Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatemi. None is considered a clear consensus choice if Khamene’i leaves the scene unexpectedly, and experts assess that the Assembly of Experts might use a constitutional provision to set up a three-person leadership council to replace Khamene’i rather than select one person. Of the potential successors, only Rafsanjani can legitimately claim to have been a constant presence at Ayatollah Khomeini’s side in the revolution that established the Islamic Republic. Rafsanjani broke an unstated taboo in December 2015 by raising the issue of Assembly consideration of potential successors. Photograph from http://www.leader.ir Congressional Research Service 5 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Unelected or Indirectly Elected Institutions: The Supreme Leader, Council of Guardians, and Expediency Council Some components of Iran’s power structure consist of unelected or indirectly elected persons and institutions. The Supreme Leader At the apex of the Islamic Republic’s power structure is the “Supreme Leader.” He is chosen by an elected body—the Assembly of Experts—which also has the constitutional power to remove him, as well as to rewrite Iran’s constitution (subject to approval in a national referendum). Upon Ayatollah Khomeini’s death, the Assembly selected one of his disciples, Ayatollah Ali Khamene’i, as Supreme Leader.6 Although he has never had Khomeini’s undisputed political or religious authority, the powers of the office ensure that Khamene’i is Iran’s paramount leader. Under the constitution, the Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, giving him the power to appoint commanders. He is directly represented on the highest national security body, the Supreme National Security Council, which is composed of top military and civilian security officials. The constitution gives the Supreme Leader the power to approve the removal of an elected president if either the judiciary or the Majles (parliament) decide there is cause for that removal. The Supreme Leader appoints half of the 12-member Council of Guardians; all members of the Expediency Council, and the head of Iran’s judiciary. Council of Guardians and Expediency Council The 12-member Council of Guardians (COG) consists of six Islamic jurists appointed by the Supreme Leader, and six secular lawyers selected by the judiciary and confirmed by the Majles. Currently headed by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the conservative-controlled body reviews legislation to ensure it conforms to Islamic law. It also vets election candidates by evaluating their backgrounds according to constitutional requirements that each candidate demonstrate knowledge of Islam, loyalty to the Islamic system of government, and other criteria that are largely subjective. The COG also certifies election results. The 42-member “Expediency Council” was established in 1988 to resolve legislative disagreements between the Majles and the COG. It has since evolved into a policy advisory body for the Supreme Leader and an overseer of the performance of the president and his cabinet. Its members serve five-year terms; its chairman, Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, was reappointed in February 2007 and again in March 2012. The Expediency Council’s executive officer is former Revolutionary Guard commander-in-chief Mohsen Reza’i. 6 At the time of his selection as Supreme Leader, Khamene’i was generally referred to at the rank of Hojjat ol-Islam, one rank below Ayatollah, suggesting his religious elevation was political rather than through traditional mechanisms. Congressional Research Service 6 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Table 1. Major Factions, Personalities, and Interest Groups Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i See box above. President Hassan Rouhani See box below. Expediency Council Chair Ayatollah Ali Akbar HashemiRafsanjani Born in 1934, a longtime key regime strategist, Khomeini disciple, and advocate of “grand bargain” to resolve all outstanding issues with United States. Was Majles speaker during 1981-1989 and president 1989-1997. Family owns large share of Iran’s total pistachio production. Ouster as Assembly of Experts chairman in 2011 widely attributed to his tacit support of popular opposition to Ahmadinejad 2009 reelection. That perception undoubtedly contributed to COG denying his candidacy in 2013 presidential elections. Election of Rouhani, an ally, as president in 2013 has revived Rafsanjani’s influence somewhat. The political activities of Rafsanjani’s children have contributed to his uneven relations with Khamene’i. Daughter Faizah was jailed in September 2012 for participating in the 2009 protests. Five Rafsanjani other family members were arrested in 2009 and 2010 on similar charges. Senior Shiite Clerics The most senior clerics, most of whom are in Qom, including several Grand Ayatollahs, are generally “quietist”—they believe that the senior clergy should refrain from direct involvement in politics. These include Grand Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi, Grand Ayatollah Abdol Karim Musavi-Ardabili, and Grand Ayatollah Yusuf Sanei, all of whom criticized the regime’s crackdown against oppositionists during the 2009 uprising. Others believe in political involvement, including Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, the founder of the hardline Haqqani school and spiritual mentor to Ahmadinejad until breaking with him in 2011. Yazdi is an assertive defender of the powers of the Supreme Leader. Society of Militant Clerics Longtime organization of moderate-to-hardline clerics. Did not back Ahmadinejad for reelection in 2009 and led a bloc opposing Ahmadinejad in the March 2, 2012, Majles elections. President Rouhani is a member of this group. Reformist and Green Movement Leaders: Mir Hossein Musavi/ Mohammad Khatemi/Mehdi Karrubi Mir Hossein Musavi is the titular leader of the Green movement, the coalition of youth and intellectuals that led the 2009-2010 uprising that protested the allegedly fraudulent reelection of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Musavi is a noncleric and an architect by training, born in 1942. He was a disciple of Ayatollah Khomeini and served as foreign minister (1980), then prime minister (1981-1989), and managed the state rationing program during the Iran-Iraq War. Musavi often feuded with Khamene’i, who was then president. At that time, he was an advocate of state control of the economy. His post was abolished in the 1989 revision of the constitution. Musavi supports political and social freedoms and reducing Iran’s international isolation, but also state intervention in the economy to benefit workers and lower classes. Appeared at some of the 2009 protests, was sometimes harassed by security agents, but some opposition leaders resented his statements supporting reconciliation with the regime. He and his wife (prominent activist Zahra Rahnevard), along with fellow Green Movement leader and defeated 2009 presidential candidate Mehdi Karrubi, were placed in detention in mid-2011. In early 2014, Karrubi was allowed to return to his home, although still under the control of regime guards. Musavi remains in detention. Karrubi was Speaker of the Majles during 1989-1992 and 2000-2004. Mohammad Khatemi was elected president on a reformist platform in May 1997, with 69% of the vote; reelected June 2001 with 77%. Rode wave of sentiment for easing social and political restrictions, but these groups became disillusioned with Khatemi’s failure as president to buck hardliners on reform issues. He endorsed Musavi in the 2009 election. Congressional Research Service 7 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Student Groups Groups composed of well-educated, Westernized urban youth have been the backbone of the Green Movement. The Office of Consolidation of Unity is the student group that led the 1999 riots but which later became controlled by regime loyalists. An offshoot, the Confederation of Iranian Students (CIS), believes in regime replacement and in 2013 formed a “National Iran Congress” to advocate that outcome. CIS founder Amir Abbas Fakhravar is based in the United States. Co-founder Arzhang Davoodi has been in prison since 2002 and in July 2014 was sentenced to death. Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) The most prominent and best organized pro-reform grouping, but in 2009 lost political ground to Green Movement groups. IIPF leaders include Khatemi’s brother, Mohammad Reza Khatemi (deputy speaker in the 2000-2004 Majles) and Mohsen Mirdamadi. Backed Musavi in June 2009 election; several IIPF leaders detained and prosecuted in postelection dispute. The party was outlawed in September 2010. Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIR) Composed mainly of left-leaning Iranian figures who support state control of the economy, but want greater political pluralism and relaxation of rules on social behavior. A major constituency of the reformist camp. Its leader is former Heavy Industries Minister Behzad Nabavi, who supported Musavi in 2009 election and has been incarcerated for most of the time since June 2009. The organization was outlawed by the regime simultaneously with the outlawing of the IIPF, above. Combatant Clerics Association Very similar name to the Society of Militant Clerics, above, but politically very different. Formed in 1988, it is run by reformist critics. Leading figures include Mohammad Khatemi, former Interior Minister Ali Akbar Mohtashemi-Pur, and former Prosecutor General Ali Asgar Musavi-Koiniha. Other Prominent Dissidents Other leading dissidents, some in Iran, others in exile (including in the United States), have been challenging the regime since well before the Green Movement formed. Journalist Akbar Ganji served six years in prison for alleging high-level involvement in 1999 murders of Iranian dissident intellectuals. Religion scholar Abdol Karim Soroush left Iran in 2001 after challenging the doctrine of clerical rule. Former Revolutionary Guard organizer Mohsen Sazegara broadcasts on-line to Iran from his base in the United States. Nobel Peace Prize laureate (2003) and Iran human rights activist lawyer Shirin Abadi, who for many years represented clients persecuted or prosecuted by the regime, left Iran after the 2009 uprising. Some well-known dissidents incarcerated since 2010 include filmmaker Jafar Panahi; journalist Abdolreza Tajik; famed blogger Hossein Derakshan. The elderly leader of the Iran Freedom Movement leader, Ibrahim Yazdi, was released from prison in April 2011 after resigning as the movement’s leader. Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh was released from prison in September 2013. In May 2015, the regime arrested Ms. Narges Mohammad, a well-known activist against regime executions. Other significant dissidents in exile include former Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, Mohsen Kadivar, and U.S.-based Fatemah Haghighatgoo. Monarchists/Shah’s Son Some Iranians outside Iran, including in the United States, want to replace the regime with a constitutional monarchy led by Reza Pahlavi, the U.S.-based son of the late former Shah and a U.S.-trained combat pilot. The Shah’s son, who was born in 1960, has delivered statements condemning the regime for the post-2009 election crackdown and he has called for international governments to withdraw their representation from Tehran. He appears periodically in broadcasts into Iran by Iranian exile-run stations in California,7 as well as in other Iran-oriented media. Pahlavi has always had some support particularly in the older generation in Iran, but he has tried to broaden his following by denying that he seeks a restoration of a monarchy. Since March 2011, he has been increasingly cooperating with—and 7 Ron Kampeas, “Iran’s Crown Prince Plots Nonviolent Insurrection from Suburban Washington,” Associated Press, August 26, 2002. Congressional Research Service 8 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy possibly attempting to co-opt—younger leaders in a “National Council of Iran” (NCI), which was formally established along with over 30 other groups in April 2013. The Council drafted a set of democratic principles for a post-Islamic republic Iran but has since floundered as a result of defections and relative lack of activity. Leftist Groups Some oppositionists who support left-wing ideologies support the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). See text box at the end of this report. Sunni Armed Opposition: Jundullah Jundullah is composed of Sunni Muslims primarily from the Baluchistan region bordering Pakistan. The region is inhabited by members of the Baluch minority and is far less developed than other parts of Iran. On the grounds that Jundullah has attacked civilians in the course of violent attacks in Iran, the State Department formally named it an FTO on November 4, 2010. Some saw the designation as an overture toward the Iranian government, while others saw it as a sign that the United States supports only opposition groups that are committed to peaceful methods. Jundullah has conducted several attacks on Iranian security and civilian officials, including a May 2009 bombing of a mosque in Zahedan and the October 2009 killing of five IRGC commanders in Sistan va Baluchistan Province. The regime claimed a victory against the group in February 2010 with the capture of its top leader, Abdolmalek Rigi. The regime executed him in June 2010, but the group retaliated in July 2010 with a Zahedan bombing that killed 28 persons, including some IRGC personnel. The group was responsible for a December 15, 2010, bombing at a mosque in Chahbahar, also in Baluchistan, that killed 38. Kurdish Armed Groups: Free Life Party (PJAK) An armed Kurdish group operating out of Iraq is the Free Life Party, known by its acronym PJAK. Its leader is believed to be Abdul Rahman Hajji Ahmadi, born in 1941, who is a citizen of Germany and lives in that country. Many PJAK fighters reportedly are women. PJAK was designated by the Treasury Department in early February 2009 as a terrorism supporting entity under Executive Order 13224, although the designation statement indicated the decision was based mainly on PJAK’s association with the Turkish Kurdish opposition group Kongra Gel, also known as the PKK. Five Kurds executed by Iran’s regime in May 2010 were alleged members of PJAK. In June 2010 and July 2011, Iran conducted some shelling of reputed PJAK bases inside Iraq, reportedly killing some Kurdish civilians. Arab Oppositionists/Ahwazi Arabs Another militant group, the Ahwazi Arabs, operates in the largely Arab-inhabited areas of southwest Iran. Relatively inactive over the past few years, and the regime continues to execute captured members of the organization. Sources: Various press accounts and author conversations with Iran experts in and outside Washington, DC. Elected Institutions and Recent Elections Several major institutions are directly elected by the population, but international organizations and governments question the credibility of Iran’s elections because of the COG’s role in limiting the number and ideological diversity of candidates. Women can vote and run for most offices, but the COG interprets the Iranian constitution as prohibiting women from running for the office of president. Presidential candidates must receive more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff, which, if needed, is generally held several weeks later. Another criticism of the political process in Iran is the relative absence of political parties; establishing a party requires the permission of the Interior Ministry under Article 10 of Iran’s constitution. The standards to obtain approval are high: to date, numerous parties have filed for permission since the regime was founded, but only those considered loyal to the regime have been granted (or allowed to retain) license to operate. Some have been licensed and then banned, such as the two reformist parties Islamic Iran Participation Front and Organization of Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, which were formally outlawed in September 2010. Congressional Research Service 9 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy The Presidency The main directly elected institution is the presidency, which is clearly subordinate to the Supreme Leader. Each president has tried and generally failed to expand his authority relative to the Supreme Leader, and presidential authority, particularly on matters of national security, is also often impinged upon by key clerics and allies of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other powerful institutions. But, the presidency does provide vast opportunities for the holder of the post to reward supporters. The president appoints and supervises the cabinet, develops the budgets of cabinet departments, and imposes and collects taxes on corporations and other bodies. The presidency also runs oversight bodies such as the Anticorruption Headquarters and the General Inspection Organization, to which all government officials are formally required to submit annual financial statements. Religious foundations, called “bonyads,” for example, are loosely regulated and largely exempt from taxation. Likewise, the IRGC is able to generate profits from its business affiliates, which enjoy vast tax and regulatory benefits, and can spend significant amounts of unbudgeted funds on arms, technology, support to pro-Iranian movements, and other functions. Prior to 1989, Iran had both an elected president and a prime minister selected by the elected Majles (parliament). However, the holders of the two positions were constantly in institutional conflict and a 1989 constitutional revision eliminated the prime ministership. Because Iran’s presidents have sometimes asserted the powers of their institution against the office of the Supreme Leader itself, in October 2011, Khamene’i raised the possibility of eliminating the post of president and restoring the post of prime minister. The prime minister would be selected by the elected Majles rather than being directly elected by the population, and presumably would not be as independent of the Supreme Leader as is the existing presidency. The Majles Iran’s Majles, or parliament, is unicameral, consisting of 290 seats, all elected. Majles elections occur one year prior to the presidential elections; the elections for the ninth Majles were held on March 2, 2012, and the next will be held on February 26, 2016. The Majles confirms cabinet selections and drafts and acts on legislation. Among its main duties is to consider and enact a proposed national budget, actions that typically take place in advance of the Persian New Year (Nowruz) each March 21. It actively legislates on domestic economic and social issues, but it tends to defer to the presidency and security institutions on defense and foreign policy issues. It is constitutionally required to ratify major international agreements, including the JCPOA, and it approved the agreement in October 2015. The approval was upheld by CoG review. The Majles has always been highly factionalized. However, all factions tend to defer immediately to the authority of the Supreme Leader. There is no “quota” for the number of women to be elected, but women regularly run and win election. Still, their representation has been small relative to the female population. There is one “reserved seat” for each of Iran’s recognized religious minorities, including Jews and Christians. The Assembly of Experts A major but little publicized elected institution is the Assembly of Experts. Akin to a standing electoral college, it is empowered to choose a new Supreme Leader upon the death of the incumbent, and it formally “oversees” the work of the Supreme Leader. The Assembly can replace him if necessary, although invoking that power would, in practice, most likely occur in the event of a severe health crisis. The Assembly is also empowered to amend the constitution. Congressional Research Service 10 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy The Assembly has 86 seats, elected to term that varies between eight and ten years, with elections conducted on a provincial basis. It generally meets two times a year, for a few days each. The fourth election for the Assembly was held on December 15, 2006; after that election, Rafsanjani, still a major figure having served two terms as president (1989-1997), was named deputy leader of the Assembly. Rafsanjani was selected to head the body in September 2007, following the death of then leader Ayatollah Meshkini. Rafsanjani’s opposition to the crackdown on the 2009 uprising ran him afoul of the Supreme Leader and he was not reelected as chair of the body in March 2011; he was replaced by aging and infirm compromise candidate Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi-Kani, who died in October 2014 and was replaced on an acting basis by deputy Chairman Mahmoud Shahrudi, a former chief of the judiciary. The Assembly selected 83-year old Mohammad Yazdi as the new chairman in March 2015; he will serve until the next Assembly of Experts election on February 26, 2016 (concurrent with the Majles elections). The Assembly election will be key because the next Assembly might be the one that chooses Khamene’i’s successor, given his advanced age. In December 2015, Rafsanjani raised the succession issue publicly by stating that the Assembly had formed a committee to evaluate the backgrounds of potential successors and develop a list of possible choices.8 Elections since 1989 and Their Implications Rafsanjani served as president during 1989-1997, elected soon after Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in June of 1989. He was succeeded by avowed reformist Mohammad Khatemi who won landslide victories in the elections of 1997 and 2001. After marginalizing Khatemi by accusing him of opening up the political system too much, hardliners began to regain the sway they held when Ayatollah Khomeini was alive. Conservatives won 155 out of the 290 Majles seats in the February 20, 2004, Majles elections, in large part because the COG disallowed 3,600 reformist candidates. 2005 Presidential Election. The COG narrowed the field for the June 2005 presidential elections to eight candidates (out of the 1,014 persons who filed to run). The major candidates were Rafsanjani,9 Ali Larijani, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, and Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. With 21% and 19.5%, respectively, Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad, who apparently had the tacit backing of Khamene’i, moved to a runoff on June 24, which Ahmadinejad won with 61.8% to Rafsanjani’s 35.7%. During Ahmadinejad’s first term, which began in August 2005, splits widened between Ahmadinejad and other conservatives. In the March 2008 Majles elections, some conservatives banded together in an anti-Ahmadinejad bloc. Disputed 2009 Election. Reformists saw this conservative split as an opportunity to unseat Ahmadinejad in the June 12, 2009, presidential election and rallied behind Mir Hossein Musavi, who served as prime minister during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. The COG also allowed the candidacies of reformist Mehdi Karrubi and former IRGC Commander Mohsen Reza’i (see above). Musavi’s young, urban supporters used social media such as Facebook and Twitter to organize large rallies in Tehran, but pro-Ahmadinejad rallies were large as well. Turnout was about 85%. The Interior Ministry announced only two hours after the polls closed that Ahmadinejad had won—contrary to tradition in which results are announced a day later. The vote totals, released June 13, showed Ahmadinejad receiving about 25 million votes (63%), Musavi 8 The Guardian, December 13, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/14/rafsanjani-breaks-taboo-overselection-of-irans-next-supreme-leader. 9 Rafsanjani was constitutionally permitted to run because a third term would not have been consecutive with his previous two terms. In the 2001 presidential election, the Council permitted 10 out of the 814 registered candidates. Congressional Research Service 11 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy with about 13 million, and under 1 million each for Reza’i and Karrubi. Musavi supporters immediately began protesting, citing the infeasibility of counting votes so quickly. Some outside analysts said the results tracked pre-election polls.10 Large public demonstrations occurred June 13-19, 2009, largely in Tehran but also in other cities. Security forces used some force and killed over 100 protesters (opposition figure—Iran government figure was 27), including a 19-year-old woman, Neda Soltani, who subsequently became an emblem of the uprising. The opposition congealed into the “Green Movement of Hope and Change.” Some protests in December 2009 overwhelmed regime security forces in some parts of Tehran, but the movement’s activity declined after its demonstration planned for the February 11, 2010, anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic was suppressed. Minor protests were held on several subsequent occasions in 2010. As the unrest ebbed, Ahmadinejad promoted his loyalists and a nationalist version of Islam that limits clerical authority, bringing him conflict with Supreme Leader Khamene’i. Amid that rift, the March 2, 2012, Majles elections attracted only 5,400 candidacies—33% fewer than the previous Majles elections. Only 10% of them were women. The COG issued a final candidate list of 3,400 for the 290 seats up for election. Two blocs of candidates supported strongly by Khamene’i won about 75% of the seats—weakening Ahmadinejad politically. June 14, 2013, Presidential Election In early 2013, the presidential election was set for June 14, with municipal elections to be held concurrently, perhaps in part to improve turnout among voters mobilized by local issues. Candidate registration took place during May 7-11, 2013, and the COG finalized the presidential candidate field on May 22. A runoff was to be held on June 21 if no candidate received more than 50% of the votes. The major candidates who filed included the following:    Four figures close to the Supreme Leader—Tehran mayor Qalibaf, former Majles Speaker Haddad Adel, former foreign minister and top Khamene’i foreign policy advisor Ali Akbar Velayati, and Iran’s then chief nuclear negotiator, Seyed Jalilli. The COG approved them to run; Haddad Adel dropped out before the vote. Former IRGC Commander-in-Chief Mohsen Reza’i was also approved. Former chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rouhani, a moderate and Rafsanjani ally. The COG disapproved Rafsanjani’s candidacy—a disqualification that shocked many Iranians because of Rafsanjani’s prominent place in the history of the regime. The candidacy of Ahmadinejad ally, Mashai, also was denied. Green Movement supporters, who were expected to boycott the vote, mobilized behind Rouhani late in the campaign as the perception took hold that the regime was committed to avoiding another election-related uprising. This vote propelled a 70% turnout and a first-round victory for Rouhani, garnering about 50.7% of the 36 million votes cast. Rouhani was sworn in on August 4, 2013, and nominated a cabinet that same day. His nominees appeared to reflect a commitment to implement his platform and to appoint competent officials rather than political loyalists. The Majles approved all but three of his choices. The most significant appointees, as well as other personnel moves made by Rouhani, include the following: 10 A paper published by Chatham House and the University of St. Andrews strongly questions how Ahmadinejad’s vote could have been as large as reported by official results, in light of past voting patterns throughout Iran. “Preliminary Analysis of the Voting Figures in Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election.” http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk. Congressional Research Service 12 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy     Foreign Minister: Mohammad Javad Zarif, the former Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Rouhani assigned Zarif to serve concurrently as chief nuclear negotiator, a post traditionally held by the chairman of the Supreme National Security Council. In September 2013, Rouhani appointed senior IRGC leader and former Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani as head of that body; Shamkhani has held more moderate positions than his IRGC peers. Oil Minister: Bijan Zanganeh, who served in the same post during the Khatemi presidency and attracted significant foreign investment to the sector. He replaced Rostam Qasemi, who was associated with the corporate arm of the IRGC. Zanganeh has rehired and recruited many oil industry technocrats. Defense Minister: Hosein Dehgan. An IRGC stalwart, he was an early organizer of the IRGC unit in Lebanon that helped form Hezbollah’s militia wing and later became the IRGC-Qods Force. He later was IRGC Air Force commander and deputy Defense Minister. Justice Minister: Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, a controversial minister because, as deputy Intelligence Minister in late 1980s, he was implicated in a 1988 massacre of Iranian prisoners. He was Interior Minister under Ahmadinejad. Hojjat ol-Islam: Dr. Hassan Rouhani Hassan Rouhani is a Hojjat ol-Islam, one rank below Ayatollah. He was born in 1948. He holds a Ph.D. in law from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. Rouhani is a long-time regime stalwart who was part of Ayatollah Khomeini’s circle prior to the triumph of the Islamic revolution. He is also an associate and protégé of Rafsanjani, and Rouhani’s pragmatic policy approach on issues such as the nuclear issue and relations with the United States approximates Rafsanjani’s views. Rouhani’s closeness to Rafsanjani potentially complicates Rouhani’s relations with Khamene’i, but there is no evidence of direct Rouhani-Khamene’i tension to date. Career Background Often nicknamed the “diplomat sheikh,” Rouhani was chief nuclear negotiator during 2003-2005, when Iran did agree to suspend uranium enrichment. He is believed amenable to a nuclear deal with the international community that would reduce international sanctions but not necessarily preclude any options for Iran’s nuclear program over the longer term. He also campaigned on a platform of easing the Islamic Republic’s social restrictions and its suppression of free expression. That platform helped Rouhani draw support from the Green movement and other reformists to win his election. On the other hand, some accounts suggest that he supported the crackdown against an earlier student uprising in July 1999, during the presidency of reformist figure Mohammad Khatemi. Rouhani is a longtime member of the political establishment. Then President Rafsanjani appointed him a member of the Supreme National Security Council in 1989, and he remains on that body. He has been a member of the Assembly of Experts since 1999, and was a member of the Majles during 1980-2000, serving twice as deputy speaker. He has also been a member of the Expediency Council since 1991. He headed the Center for Strategic Studies, a foreign policy think tank that has advised the Expediency Council and the Supreme Leader, since 1992. Photograph from http://www.rouhani.ir Congressional Research Service 13 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Rouhani Presidency Rouhani’s presidency, to date, has focused mainly on the JCPOA negotiations and implementation and economic reform, coupled with relative policy continuity on regional issues. The JCPOA and resulting sanctions relief, if implemented, are likely to improve Rouhani’s chances for reelection 2017, as well as improving the prospects for pro-Rouhani candidates to succeed in the February 2016 Majles elections. Hardliners who criticized Iranian concessions in the JCPOA were unable to block approval of the JCPOA by the Majles or the CoG, but they appear to be succeeding in thwarting any move toward a broader reconciliation with the United States. Unlike Ahmadinejad, Rouhani appears to enjoy the confidence of the Supreme Leader, who has repeatedly refused to directly back the hardliners when Rouhani has confronted them in public comments. Still, hardliners have generally succeeded in blocking Rouhani’s moves toward a more open and tolerant society. Most experts agree that Rouhani does not directly control Iran’s judiciary and security institutions, which remain controlled by hardliners. The most prominent of the security institutions are the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), the IRGC, the Basij organization of the IRGC, and the Law Enforcement Forces (riot police, regular police, and gendarmerie). The Ministry of Islamic Guidance monitors journalists reporting from Iran as well as media and communications operations. Iran has an official body, the High Council for Human Rights, headed by former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Larijani (brother of the Majles speaker and the judiciary head). However, it generally defends the government’s actions to outside bodies rather than encouraging improvement of human rights practices. Neither of the two main titular Green Movement leaders, Mousavi and Karrubi, who were detained in early 2011, have been set free, although in 2014 Karrubi was moved from a detention facility to house arrest. And, not only has U.S.-Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian been convicted, but another dual national Siamak Namazi, was arrested in September 2015. Still, in late 2013, Rouhani apparently prevailed on the judiciary to release nearly 80 political prisoners incarcerated for involvement in the uprising, including prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. In a direct rebuke to Rouhani, in August 2014, the Majles voted to oust Minister for Science, Research, and Technology Reza Faraji Dana. Majles hardliners say the minister was appointing to senior ministry positions persons who supported the 2009 uprising. Several Rouhani nominees to replace him were voted down before the Majles confirmed Mohammad Farhadi as the replacement in in November 2014. Human Rights Practices International criticism of Iran’s human rights practices predates the crackdown against the 2009 uprising. Table 2, which discusses the regime’s record on a number of human rights issues, is based on the latest State Department human rights report (for 2014)11 and on reports from a U.N. Special Rapporteur, Ahmad Shaheed. These reports cite Iran for a wide range of serious abuses— aside from its suppression of political opponents—including unjust executions, politically motivated abductions by security forces, torture, and arbitrary arrest and detention. Iran’s human rights record is scrutinized—and widely criticized—by the United Nations, the United States, and multilateral groupings. After a four-year review of Iran’s human rights record 11 Much of the information in this section comes from the State Department human rights report for 2014: http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm#wrapper; and Congressional Research Service 14 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy that took place in February 2010, on March 24, 2011, the U.N. Human Rights Council voted, 22 to 7, to reestablish the post of “Special Rapporteur” on Iranian human rights abuses, and former Maldives Foreign Minister Ahmad Shaheed was appointed to this role in June 2011. A previous Special Rapporteur mission on Iran existed during 1988-2002. The U.N. Human Rights Council has since continued to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on a yearly basis. Iran has been censured for refusing permission for the Special Rapporteur to conduct fact-finding visits to Iran. On November 21, 2011, the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee, by a vote of 86-32, with 59 abstentions, approved a resolution asserting that Iran must cooperate with the efforts of the Special Rapporteur. The full Assembly approved the resolution on December 19, 2011, by a vote of 89-30 with 64 abstentions. In April 2014, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on European Union (EU) diplomats to raise Iran’s human rights record at official engagements. The Special Rapporteur has noted that the 2012 revisions to the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code made some reforms, including eliminating death sentences for children convicted of drug-related offenses. The Rapporteur credits Rouhani with a September 2013 proposal for a new “charter for citizen’s rights.” In 2014, Iran ratified an additional International Labour Organization convention. In August 2014, Rouhani’s government obtained approval by service providers to operate higher-speed Internet networks that allow for easier transmission of photos and videos. Despite the criticism of its human rights record, on April 29, 2010, Iran acceded to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, after dropping an attempt to sit on the higher-profile Human Rights Council. It also has a seat on the boards of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) and UNICEF. Iran’s U.N. dues are about $9 million per year. As part of its efforts to try to compel Iran to improve its human rights practices, the United States has imposed numerous sanctions on Iranian officials alleged to have committed human rights abuses, and on firms that help Iranian authorities censor or monitor the Internet. Human rightsrelated sanctions are analyzed in significant detail in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman. Table 2. Human Rights Practices: General Categories Regime Practice/Recent Developments Issues Media Freedoms Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance actively blocks pro-reform websites and blogs and closing newspapers critical of the government, but some editors say that the government has become more tolerant of critical media since Rouhani took office. The Majles investigated the November 2012 death in custody of blogger, Sattar Beheshti; seven security officers were arrested and the Tehran “Cyber Police” commander was removed for the incident. Iran is setting up a national network that would have a monopoly on Internet service for Iranians. Labor Restrictions Independent unions are legal but not allowed in practice. The sole authorized national labor organization is a state-controlled “Workers’ House” umbrella. A bus drivers’ union leader, Mansur Osanloo, was jail from 2007 until 2011. Women’s Rights Women can vote in all elections and run in parliamentary and municipal elections. Nine women are in the Majles (290 total seats), but women cannot serve as judges. There was one woman in a previous cabinet (Minister of Health). Women are permitted to drive and work outside the home without restriction, including owning their own businesses, although less than 20% of the workforce is female. Women are required to be covered in public, generally with a garment called a chador, but enforcement has relaxed since Rouhani took office. Women do not have inheritance or divorce rights equal to that of men, and their court testimony carries half the Congressional Research Service 15 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy weight of a male’s. Laws against rape are not enforced effectively. In September 2014, an IranianBritish woman was jailed briefly for trying to attend a men’s volleyball match. Religious Freedom Government restrictions on religious freedom for some non-Shiite groups in Iran have been noted consistently in State Department International Religious Freedom reports, including the report for 2014. Each year since 1999 (and most recently in July 2014), the Secretary of State has designated Iran as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). No sanctions have been added under IRFA, on the grounds that Iran is already subject to extensive U.S. sanctions. Executions Policy Human rights observer groups say the government executed about 735 persons in 2014; many of those executed have been Kurdish oppositionists. Iran is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is obligated to cease the executions of minors. Human Trafficking Since 2005, State Department “Trafficking in Persons” reports (including the report for 2015) have placed Iran in Tier 3 (worst level) for failing to take significant action to prevent trafficking in persons. Iranian women, boys, and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation in Iran as well as to Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, and Europe. Stonings In 2002, the head of Iran’s judiciary issued a ban on stoning. However, Iranian officials later called that directive “advisory,” thus putting decisions at the discretion of individual judges. Detentions of U.S. Nationals and Dual Nationals Iran does not recognize any dual nationality. Iranian-American scholar Haleh Esfandiari, of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, was imprisoned for several months in 2007 on the grounds that the Center was involved in democracy promotion efforts in Iran. An IranianAmerican journalist, Roxanna Saberi, was imprisoned for five months in 2009 for expired press credentials. Three American hikers (Sara Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal) were arrested in August 2009 after crossing into Iran from a hike in northern Iraq. They were released in 2010 and 2011 on $500,000 bail each—brokered by Oman. Former FBI agent Robert Levinson remains missing after a visit in 2005 to Kish Island to meet an Iranian source (Dawud Salahuddin, allegedly responsible for the 1980 killing in the United States of an Iranian diplomat who had served the Shah’s government). Iran denies knowing his status or location. In December 2011, Levinson’s family released a one-year old taped statement by him, provided to the family in unclear circumstances. In January 2013, his family released recent photos of him, also provided by captors through uncertain channels, and the family acknowledged in late 2013 that his visit to Kish Island was related to CIA contract work. A former U.S. Marine, Amir Hekmati, was arrested in 2011 and remains in jail in Iran allegedly for spying for the United States. His family has been permitted to visit him there. On December 20, 2012, a U.S. Christian convert of Iranian origin, Rev. Saeed Abedini, was imprisoned for “undermining national security” for setting up orphanages in Iran in partnership with Iranian Christians. His closed trial was held January 22, 2013, and he was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison. In mid-July 2014, Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian (a dual national) was detained along with two American journalists and his journalist wife, an Iranian national. His wife was released in October. In April 2015, Rezaian was formally charged with espionage, and his closed trial began on May 22. In October 2015, Iran’s judiciary announced that Rezaian had been convicted, but the exact charges on which he was convicted and the penalty were not announced. Rouhani and other Iranian leaders have indirectly suggested an exchange of Rezaian for about 15 Iranians and Iranian Americans imprisoned in the United States for violating U.S. export laws by shipping weapons-related technology, to Iran. In November 2015, it was reported that Iran had arrested another U.S.-Iran dual national, business consultant Siamak Namazi, on unspecified charges. He remains in custody. These issues were not addressed in the JCPOA. In the 114th Congress, S.Con.Res. 14 expresses the sense of Congress that no sanctions be lifted unless the dual nationals are released. Groups Christians Christians, who number about 300,000-370,000, are a “recognized minority” that has one allocated seat in the Majles. The majority of Christians in Iran are ethnic Armenians. The Assyrian Christian population numbers 10,000-20,000. Churches in the country are overseen by the IRGC, suggesting substantial official scrutiny of Christian religious practice. At times, there Congressional Research Service 16 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy have been unexplained assassinations of pastors in Iran, as well as prosecutions of Christians for converting from Islam. In September 2011, a Protestant Iranian pastor who was born a Muslim, Youcef Nadarkhani, was sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian faith. The United States government and many human rights groups called for an overturning of the sentence. He was released on September 8, 2012, but was rearrested on Christmas Day 2012. On February 29, 2012, the House debated but postponed action on H.Res. 556 demanding he be released. The issue of pastor Saeed Abedini, a dual national, is discussed below. Baha’is Iran is repeatedly cited for virtually unrelenting repression of the Baha’i community, which Iran’s Shiite Muslim clergy views as a heretical sect, which numbers about 300,000-350,000. Seven Baha’i leaders were sentenced to 20 years in August 2010; their sentences were reduced in September 2010 to 10 years but the full sentence was restored on appeal. In the 1990s, several Baha’is were executed for apostasy. Virtually yearly congressional resolutions condemn Iran’s treatment of the Baha’is. Jews Also a “recognized minority,” with one seat in the Majles, the 8,800-member (2012 census) Jewish community enjoys somewhat more freedoms than Jewish communities in several other Muslim states. However, in June 1999, Iran arrested 13 Jews that it said were part of an “espionage ring” for Israel, and 10 were convicted. An appeals panel reduced the sentences and all were released by April 2003. On November 17, 2008, Iran hanged Muslim businessman Ali Ashtari for providing Iranian nuclear information to Israel. On September 4, 2013, Rouhani’s “Twitter” account issued greetings to Jews on the occasion of Jewish New Year (“Rosh Hashanah”). The Jewish Majles member accompanied Rouhani on his visit to the U.N. General Assembly meetings in September 2013. Azeris Azeris are one-quarter of the population and are mostly well integrated into government and society (Khamene’i himself is of Azeri heritage), but many Azeris complain of ethnic and linguistic discrimination. Each year, there are arrests of Azeri students and cultural activists who press for their right to celebrate their culture and history. The government accuses them of promoting revolution or separatism. Kurds There are about 5 million-11 million Kurds in Iran. The Kurdish language is not banned, but schools do not teach it and Kurdish political organizations, activists, and media outlets are routinely scrutinized, harassed, and closed down for supporting greater Kurdish autonomy. Several Kurdish oppositionists have been executed since 2010. In May 2015, violent unrest broke out in the Kurdish city of Mahabad after a local woman was killed in unclear circumstances in a hotel room there, reportedly while with a member of Iran’s intelligence services. Arabs Ethnic Arabs are prominent in southwestern Iran, particularly Khuzestan Province. The 2 million to 4 million Arabs in Iran encounter systematic oppression and discrimination, including torture and a prohibition on speaking or studying Arabic. Sources: State Department reports on human rights practices, on international religious freedom, and trafficking in persons. 2015 trafficking in persons report: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/243559.pdf. The 2014 human rights report is cited above. The Strategic Challenge Posed by Iran Successive Administrations have identified Iran as a key national security challenge, citing Iran’s nuclear and missile programs as well as its long-standing attempts to counter many U.S. objectives in the region. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in his February 2015 annual threat assessment testimony before Congress, described Iran as “an ongoing threat to U.S. national interests because of its support to the Assad regime in Syria, promulgation of anti-Israel policies, development of advanced military capabilities, and pursuit of its nuclear program.” Some interpret Iran’s national security strategy as intended primarily to protect itself from any potential U.S.-led effort to change Iran’s regime. The unclassified executive summary of a congressionally mandated Defense Department report on Iran’s military power states that “Iran’s military doctrine is defensive. It is designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions Congressional Research Service 17 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy that challenge its core interests.”12 The FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 113291) requires an updated DOD report on Iran’s military power in 2015. The sections below analyze Iran’s nuclear, missile, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Nuclear Program and International Response Iran’s nuclear program has been a paramount U.S. concern. A nuclear armed Iran, in the view of U.S. and regional officials, would be more assertive than it now is in trying to influence the policies of regional states and in supporting leaders and groups in the Middle East and elsewhere that oppose U.S. interests and allies. Iran could conclude that the United States would hesitate to use military pressure against it if it possessed nuclear weapons. U.S. policymakers express concern that Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon would produce a nuclear arms race in one of the world’s most volatile regions. Israeli leaders describe an Iranian nuclear weapon as a threat to Israel’s existence. There are also concerns that Iran might transfer nuclear technology to extremist groups or countries. U.S. officials have indicated that the JCPOA, assuming Iran implements it fully, will reduce the threat posed by Iran, even if the JCPOA does not moderate Iran’s foreign and defense policies more broadly. Iran’s nuclear program became a significant U.S. national security issue in 2002, when Iran confirmed that it was building a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and a heavy water production plant at Arak.13 The perceived threat from Iran’s program escalated significantly in 2010, when Iran began enriching to 20% U-235, which is relatively easy technically to enrich further to weapons-grade uranium (90%+). Another requirement for a nuclear weapon is a triggering mechanism that an International Atomic Energy Agency report on December 2015, based on years of investigation, concluded Iran researched as late as 2009. The United States and its partners also have insisted that Iran must not possess a nuclear-capable missile. Iran’s Nuclear Intentions and Activities The U.S. intelligence community has stated in recent years that Iran has not made a decision to eventually build nuclear weapons, and Iran’s signing of the JCPOA on July 14, 2015, indicates that Iran likely has put such a decision off for at least a decade. Iranian leaders have always professed that WMD are inconsistent with its ideology, citing Supreme Leader Khamene’i’s 2003 formal pronouncement (fatwa) that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic. On February 22, 2012, he stated that the production of and use of a nuclear weapon is prohibited as a “great sin,” and that stockpiling such weapons is “futile, expensive, and harmful.”14 Other Iranian leaders have argued that Iran does not seek a nuclear weapon because doing so would make Iran less secure – it would stimulate a regional arms race, imposition of further international sanctions, and possibly military action by Israel or the United States. Some hardline Iranian leaders have argued in favor of developing a nuclear weapon on the grounds that possessing such a weapon would end Iran’s historic vulnerability to great power invasion or domination. Iranian leaders assert that Iran’s nuclear program was always for medical uses and electricity generation in light of finite oil and gas resources. Iran argues that uranium enrichment is its 12 Department of Defense. Unclassified Executive Summary. “Annual Report on Military Power of Iran.” January 2014. 13 In November 2006, the IAEA, at U.S. urging, declined to provide technical assistance to the Arak facility on the grounds that it was likely for proliferation purposes. 14 “Leader Says West Knows Iran Not Seeking ‘Nuclear Weapons,’” Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network, February 22, 2012. Congressional Research Service 18 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy “right” as a party to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that it wants to make its own nuclear fuel to avoid potential supply disruptions by international suppliers. U.S. officials have said that Iran’s gas resources make nuclear energy unnecessary, but that Iran’s use of nuclear energy is acceptable as long as Iran verifiably demonstrates that its nuclear program is for only peaceful purposes. Allegations that Iran might have researched a nuclear explosive device have caused experts and governments to question Iran’s assertions of purely peaceful intent for its nuclear program. The December 2, 2015 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, mentioned above, to some extent strengthened the arguments of those who assert that Iran had, and still might have, nuclear weapons ambitions. Neither the December 2, 2015, IAEA report or any U.S. intelligence comments has asserted that Iran has diverted any nuclear material for a nuclear weapons program.15 These issues are discussed in greater detail in CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr. Nuclear Weapons Time Frame Estimates Estimates vary as to how long it would take Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, were there a decision to do so. Vice President Biden told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on April 30, 2015, that Iran could likely have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon within 2-3 months of a decision to manufacture that material. The stated U.S. objective of the JCPOA was to increase the “breakout time”—an all-out effort by Iran to develop a nuclear weapon using declared facilities or undeclared covert facilities—to at least 12 months—an objective the Administration says the JCPOA will accomplish—at least for the 15-year period in which the most significant restrictions are in force. On December 28, 2015, in a statement praising Iran’s shipment out to Russia of 25,000 pounds of its enriched uranium as partial fulfillment of the JCPOA requirements, Secretary of State Kerry said that this action “more than triples” the previous two – three month “breakout time.”16 Status of Uranium Enrichment and Ability to Produce Plutonium17 A key to extending the “breakout time” for an Iranian nuclear weapon is to limit Iran’s ability to produce fissile material by enriching uranium with devices called centrifuges. At the time the JCPOA was reached in July 2015, Iran had about 19,000 total installed centrifuges, of which about 10,000 were in operation. Prior to the interim nuclear agreement (Joint Plan of Action, JPA), Iran had a stockpile of 400 lbs of 20% enriched uranium (short of the 550 lbs. that would be needed to produce one nuclear weapon from that stockpile). Weapons grade uranium is enriched to 90%. Under the JPA, Iran was required to eliminate all of its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium and it was allowed to retain, but not increase, its stockpile of about 10,000 kilograms (22,000 lbs.) of low-enriched (3.5%-5%) uranium (enough to produce about eight nuclear weapons if it were to enrich that stockpile to weapons grade). Under the JCPOA, Iran will be removing from installation all but about 6,000 centrifuges and will be allowed to stockpile only 300 kilograms (660 lbs.) of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67% (restrictions that start to 15 The February 25, 2011, IAEA report listed Iran’s declared nuclear sites as well as a summary of all the NPT obligations Iran is not meeting. IAEA report of February 25, 2011. http://lewis.armscontrolwonk.com/files/2011/02/ gov2011-7.pdf. 16 Statement by Secretary Kerry. “An Update on Progress Toward Implementation Day of the JCPOA.” December 28, 2015. 17 http://isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/IAEA_Iran_Safeguards_Report_14Nov2013.pdf. These issues are discussed in greater detail in CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr. Congressional Research Service 19 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy come off after 10-15 years). Another means of acquiring fissile material for a nuclear weapon is to produce plutonium. Iran’s heavy water plant at Arak, which had been slated for completion in 2014, could, if completed, produce plutonium that can be reprocessed into fissile material for a nuclear weapon. The JPA required Iran to halt construction of the reactor, and the JCPOA requires wholesale redesign so that the reactor produces little or no plutonium. Bushehr Reactor/Russia to Build Additional Reactors U.S. officials have generally been less concerned about the Russian-built nuclear power plant at Bushehr. Under their 1995 bilateral agreement commissioning the Russian construction, Russia supplies nuclear fuel for the plant and takes back spent nuclear material for reprocessing. Russia delayed opening the plant apparently to pressure Iran on the nuclear issue, but it was fueled by October 25, 2010, was linked to Iran’s power grid in September 2011, and was reported operational as of September 3, 2012. In November 2014, Russia and Iran reached agreement for Russia to build two more reactors at Bushehr—and possibly as many as six more beyond that—at Bushehr and other sites. Under the reported terms, Russia would supply and reprocess all fuel for these reactors. In January 2015, Iran announced it had begun construction on two nuclear power plants near the existing one at Bushehr. Because all nuclear fuel and reprocessing is supplied externally, these plants are not considered a significant proliferation concern and are not addressed in the JCPOA. International Diplomatic Efforts to Address Iran’s Nuclear Program International concerns about Iran’s nuclear program produced a global consensus to apply economic pressure on Iran, coupled with diplomacy, to persuade Iran to limit its nuclear program. In 2003, France, Britain, and Germany (the “EU-3”) opened a separate diplomatic track to curb Iran’s program. On October 21, 2003, Iran pledged, in return for peaceful nuclear technology, to suspend uranium enrichment activities and sign and ratify the “Additional Protocol” to the NPT (allowing for enhanced inspections). Iran signed the Additional Protocol on December 18, 2003, although the Majles did not ratify it. Iran ended the suspension after several months, but the EU-3 and Iran reached a more specific November 14, 2004, “Paris Agreement”—under which Iran suspended uranium enrichment in exchange for renewed trade talks and other aid.18 The Bush Administration supported the Paris Agreement on March 11, 2005, by announcing it would drop U.S. objections to Iran applying to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Paris Agreement broke down in 2005 in large part because Iran rejected an EU-3 proposal for a permanent nuclear agreement that would provide Iran with peaceful uses of nuclear energy and limited security guarantees. On August 8, 2005, Iran broke the IAEA seals and began uranium “conversion” (one step before enrichment) at its Esfahan facility. On September 24, 2005, the IAEA Board declared Iran in non-compliance with the NPT and, on February 4, 2006, the IAEA board voted 27-319 to refer the case to the Security Council. On March 29, 2006, the Council presidency set a 30-day time limit for ceasing enrichment.20 18 For text of the agreement, see http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/IaeaIran/eu_iran14112004.shtml. EU-3-Iran negotiations on a permanent nuclear pact began on December 13, 2004, and related talks on a trade and cooperation accord (TCA) began in January 2005. 19 Voting no: Cuba, Syria, Venezuela. Abstaining: Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya, South Africa. 20 See http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N06/290/88/PDF/N0629088.pdf?OpenElement. Congressional Research Service 20 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy “P5+1” Formed. The Bush Administration offered on May 31, 2006, to join the nuclear talks. The expanded negotiating group was called the “Permanent Five Plus 1” (P5+1: United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany). The P5+1’s intent was to induce Iran to again suspend uranium enrichment through a combination of incentives and economic sanctions. A P5+1 offer to Iran on June 6, 2006, focused on guaranteeing Iran nuclear fuel (Annex I to Resolution 1747) and threatened sanctions if Iran did not agree (sanctions were imposed in subsequent years).21 First Four U.N. Security Council Resolutions Adopted The U.N. Security Council subsequently imposed sanctions on Iran in an effort to shift Iran’s calculations toward compromise. A table outlining the provisions of the U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Iran’s nuclear program can be found in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman.      Resolution 1696. On July 31, 2006, the Security Council voted 14-1 (Qatar voting no) for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1696, giving Iran until August 31, 2006, to suspend enrichment suspension, suspend construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor, and ratify the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement. It was passed under Article 40 of the U.N. Charter, which makes compliance mandatory, but not under Article 41, which refers to economic sanctions, or Article 42, which authorizes military action. Resolution 1737. After Iran refused a proposal to temporarily suspend enrichment, the Security Council adopted U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737 unanimously on December 23, 2006, under Chapter 7, Article 41 of the U.N. Charter. It demanded enrichment suspension by February 21, 2007, prohibited sale (or financing of a sale) to Iran of technology that could contribute to Iran’s nuclear program, and required U.N. member states to freeze the financial assets of named Iranian nuclear and missile firms and related persons. Resolution 1747. On March 24, 2007, Resolution 1747 was adopted unanimously demanding Iran suspend enrichment by May 24, 2007. The Resolution added entities to those sanctioned by Resolution 1737 and banned arms transfers by Iran (a provision directed at stopping Iran’s arms supplies to its regional allies and proxies). It called for, but did not require, countries to cease selling arms or dual use items to Iran and for countries and international financial institutions to avoid giving Iran any new loans or grants (except loans for humanitarian purposes). Resolution 1803. Adopted on March 3, 2008 by a vote of 14-0 (and Indonesia abstaining), Resolution 1803 added persons and entities to those sanctioned; banned travel outright by certain sanctions persons; banned virtually all sales of dual use items to Iran; and authorized inspections of Iran Air Cargo and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line shipments, if such shipments are suspected of containing banned WMD-related goods. In May 2008, the P5+1 added political and enhanced energy cooperation with Iran to previous incentives, and the text of that enhanced offer was revealed as an Annex to Resolution 1929 (see below). Resolution 1835. In July 2008, Iran it indicated it might be ready to accept a temporary “freeze for freeze”: the P5+1 would impose no new sanctions and Iran 21 One source purports to have obtained the contents of the package from ABC News: http://www.basicint.org/pubs/ Notes/BN060609.htm. Congressional Research Service 21 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy would stop expanding uranium enrichment. No agreement on that concept was reached, even though the Bush Administration sent then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns to a P5+1-Iran negotiation in Geneva on July 19, 2008. On September 27, 2008, the Council adopted Resolution 1835 (September 27, 2008), demanding compliance with previous resolutions but not adding any sanctions. Developments during the Obama Administration After President Obama was inaugurated, the P5+1 met in February 2009 to adjust its negotiating strategy to the new U.S. Administration’s stated commitment to direct U.S. engagement with Iran.22 On April 8, 2009, U.S. officials announced that a U.S. diplomat would henceforth attend all P5+1-Iran meetings. In July 2009, the United States and its allies announced that Iran needed to offer constructive proposals by late September 2009 or face “crippling sanctions.” On September 9, 2009, Iran issued new proposals that the P5+1 said constituted a sufficient basis to resume talks. Tentative Agreements Fall Apart. The October 1, 2009, P5+1-Iran meeting in Geneva produced a tentative agreement for Iran to allow Russia and France to reprocess 75% of Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile for medical use. Technical talks on the tentative accord were held in Vienna on October 19-21, 2009, and a draft agreement was approved by the P5+1 countries. However, the Supreme Leader reportedly opposed Iran’s concessions and the agreement was not finalized. In April 2010, Brazil and Turkey negotiated with Iran to revive the October arrangement. On May 17, 2010, with the president of Brazil and prime minister of Turkey in Tehran, the three signed an arrangement (“Tehran Declaration”) for Iran to send 2,600 pounds of uranium to Turkey, which would be exchanged for medically useful reprocessed uranium.23 Iran forwarded to the IAEA a formal letter of acceptance. The Administration publicly rejected it on the grounds that it did not address Iran’s enrichment to the 20% level and the Administration subsequently worked to finalize agreement on another Security Council resolution that would pressure Iran economically. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929 Immediately after announcement of the Tehran Declaration, then Secretary of State Clinton announced that the P5+1 had reached agreement on a new U.N. Security Council Resolution that would give U.S. allies authority to take substantial new economic measures against Iran. Adopted on June 9, 2010,24 Resolution 1929 was the most sweeping of those adopted on Iran’s nuclear program, and an annex presented a modified offer of incentives to Iran.25 By authorizing U.N. member states to sanction key Iranian economic sectors such as energy and banking, Resolution 1929 placed significant additional economic pressure on Iran. However, the Resolution produced no immediate breakthrough in the talks. Negotiations on December 6-7, 2010, in Geneva and January 21-22, 2011, in Istanbul floundered over Iran’s demand for immediate lifting of international sanctions. Additional rounds of P5+1-Iran talks in 2012 and 2013 (2012: April in Istanbul; May in Baghdad; and June in Moscow. 2013: Almaty 22 Dempsey, Judy. “U.S. Urged to Talk With Iran.” International Herald Tribune, February 5, 2009. Text of the pact is at http://www.cfr.org/publication/22140/. 24 It was adopted by a vote of 12-2 (Turkey and Brazil voting no) with one abstention (Lebanon). 25 Text of the resolution is at http://www.isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/ Draft_resolution_on_Iran_annexes.pdf. 23 Congressional Research Service 22 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Kazakhstan in February and in April) did not achieve agreement on a P5+1 proposal that Iran halt enrichment to the 20% level (“stop”); allow removal from Iran of the existing stockpile of 20% enriched uranium (“ship”); and eventually close the Fordow facility (“shut”). Joint Plan of Action (JPA) P5+1 leaders asserted that the 2013 election of Rouhani as president improved the prospects for a nuclear settlement. In advance of his visit to the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York during September 23-27, 2013, Rouhani stated that the Supreme Leader had given him and his team authority to negotiate a nuclear deal. The Supreme Leader largely affirmed that authority in a speech to the IRGC on September 17, 2013, in which he said he believes in the concept of “heroic flexibility”—adopting “proper and logical diplomatic moves, whether in the realm of diplomacy or in the sphere of domestic policies.”26 An agreement on a “Joint Plan of Action” (JPA) was announced on November 24, 2013. Its required Iran to eliminate its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium and cease enriching to that level, and that it not grow its stockpile of 3.5% enriched uranium, in exchange for receiving $700 million per month in hard currency payments from oil sales. The Administration argues that the JPA froze Iran’s nuclear advancement. The IAEA has stated in its reports that Iran has complied with its terms. See CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)27 P5+1-Iran negotiations on a comprehensive settlement began in February 2014 but did not make insufficient progress to meet several self-imposed deadlines. However, on April 2, 2015, the parties reached a framework for a JCPOA, and the JCPOA was finalized on July 14, 2015. U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20, 2015, endorsed the JCPOA and keeps in place some restrictions of previous Resolutions on Iran’s importation or exportation of conventional arms (for up to five years), and on development and testing of ballistic missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon (for up to eight years). For information and analysis of the provisions of the JCPOA and its implementation, see CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr. Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missile Programs Iran has developed some weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, and U.S. officials say it has a relatively advanced ballistic and cruise missile program. Although Iran is widely believed unlikely to use chemical or biological weapons or to transfer them to its regional proxies or allies, Iran’s missiles are considered to pose a realistic and significant threat to U.S. ships, forces, and allies in the Gulf region and beyond. Chemical and Biological Weapons Official U.S. reports and testimony state that Iran maintains the capability to produce chemical warfare (CW) agents and “probably” has the capability to produce some biological warfare agents 26 Open Source Center, “Iran: Leader Outlines Guard Corps Role, Talks of ‘Heroic Flexibility,’” published September 18, 2013. 27 For detail on the framework accord, reaction, and congressional review and oversight issues, see CRS Report R43333, Iran Nuclear Agreement, by Kenneth Katzman and Paul K. Kerr. Congressional Research Service 23 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy for offensive purposes, if it made the decision to do so.28 This raises questions about Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which Iran signed on January 13, 1993, and ratified on June 8, 1997. Missiles and Warheads29 The Administration asserts that Iran’s ballistic missiles and its acquisition of indigenous production of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs) provide capabilities for Iran to project power. U.S. officials and reports have estimated that Iran is steadily expanding its missile and rocket inventories and has “boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems with accuracy improvements and new sub-munition payloads.” DNI Clapper testified in February 2015, that the intelligence community assesses that “Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD.” U.N. Security Resolution 1929, and Resolution 2231 of July 20, 2014 (which will, as of Implementation Day of the JCPOA, supersede previous resolutions) prohibits Iran from developing or testing ballistic missiles designed for or capable of delivering a nuclear weapon for up to eight years. The JCPOA itself does not specifically contain any ballistic missile-related restraints on Iran. On October 11, 2015, Iran tested the domestically produced medium-range (1,200 mile range) “Emad” ballistic missile. U.S. officials brought an assertion of violation of Resolution 1929 to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, but the committee has not, to date, imposed any additional penalties on Iran for that test, or for a reported subsequent test on November 21, 2015. Administration officials maintain that the missile issue will be addressed separately from the JCPOA which, as noted, does not contain any specific missile-related provisions. Iran denies it is developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and asserts that conventionally armed missiles are an integral part of its defense strategy. Iran’s ballistic missiles are relatively numerous (several hundred) but considered not particularly accurate. Its missiles, containing conventional arms, could be used to threaten or terrorize an adversary’s population, but could not likely be used to destroy military targets with certainty. A particular worry of U.S. commanders in the Gulf region remains Iran’s inventory of cruise missiles, which can reach U.S. ships in the Gulf quickly after launch. It is unclear the extent to which Iran continues to receive outside assistance for its missile program. Some reports suggest Iranian technicians may have witnessed North Korea’s satellite launch in December 2012, which, if true, could support the view that Iran-North Korea missile cooperation is extensive. Table 3 contains some details on Iran’s missile programs.30 Iran’s programs do not appear to have been permanently set back by the November 12, 2011, explosion at a ballistic missile base outside Tehran that destroyed it and killed the base commander. 28 Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis, “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, Covering 1 January to 31 December 2010,” March 2011. 29 For more information on Iran’s missile arsenal, see CRS Report R42849, Iran’s Ballistic Missile and Space Launch Programs, by Steven A. Hildreth. 30 Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence, February 2, 2010. Congressional Research Service 24 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Table 3. Iran’s Missile Arsenal Shahab-3 (“Meteor”) The 800-mile range missile is operational, and Defense Department reports indicate Tehran has improved its lethality and effectiveness. Shahab-3 “Variant” /Sijil/Ashoura/Emad The Sijil, or Ashoura, is a solid fuel Shahab-3 variant with 1,200-1,500-mile range. The April 2012 DOD report indicates the missile is increasing in range, lethality, and accuracy, potentially putting large portions of the Near East and Southeastern Europe in range. In June 2011, Iran unveiled underground missile silos. On October 11, 2015 and reportedly again on November 21, 2015, Iran tested the domestically produced 1,20 mile range “Emad” ballistic missile. BM-25 1,500-mile range. In April 2006, Israel’s military intelligence chief said that Iran had received a shipment of North Korean-supplied BM-25 missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The Washington Times appeared to corroborate this reporting in a July 6, 2006, story, which asserted that the North Korean-supplied missile is based on a Soviet-era “SSN-6” missile. Press accounts in December 2010 indicated that Iran may have received components but not the entire BM-25 missile from North Korea. ICBM U.S. officials have long asserted that Iran might be capable of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (3,000 mile range) by 2015. That deadline has arrived, and Iran has not announced any tests of a missile of intercontinental range. However, DNI Clapper has testified that Iran has the means and motivation to develop longer range missiles, including ICBMs. Short Range Ballistic Missiles and Cruise Missiles Iran is fielding increasingly capable, short range ballistic missiles, according to DOD 2012 and 2014 reports, such as ability to home in on and target ships while the missile is in flight. One version could be a short range ballistic missile named the Qiam, tested in August 2010. Iran has long worked on a 200 mile range “Fateh 110” missile (solid propellant), a version of which is the Khaliji Fars (Persian Gulf) anti-ship ballistic missile that could threaten maritime activity throughout the Persian Gulf. Iran also is able to arm its patrol boats with Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles. Iran also has C-802’s and other missiles emplaced along Iran’s coast, including the Chinese-made CSSC-2 (Silkworm) and the CSSC-3 (Seersucker). Iran also possesses a few hundred short-range ballistic missiles, including the Shahab-1 (Scud-b), the Shahab-2 (Scud-C), and the Tondar-69 (CSS-8). Space Vehicle In February 2009, Iran successfully launched a small, low-earth satellite on a Safir-2 rocket (range about 155 miles). The Pentagon said the launch was “clearly a concern of ours” because “there are dual-use capabilities here which could be applied toward the development of long-range missiles.” Iran has claimed additional satellite launches since, including the launch and return of a vehicle carrying a small primate in December 2013. Warheads Wall Street Journal report of September 14, 2005, said that U.S. intelligence believes Iran is working to adapt the Shahab-3 to deliver a nuclear warhead. Subsequent press reports said that U.S. intelligence captured an Iranian computer in mid-2004 showing plans to construct a nuclear warhead for the Shahab.31 No further information on any such work has been reported since. Conventional and “Asymmetric Warfare” Capability Iran’s armed forces are likely able to deter or fend off any aggression from Iran’s neighbors, and Iran’s Supreme Leader and other Iranian political and military figures have repeatedly warned that Iran could and would take military action if it perceives it is threatened. Iran generally lacks the ability to deploy concentrated armed force across long distances or waterways such as the Persian Gulf and Iran’s conventional military arsenal and training are almost certainly insufficient 31 William Broad and David Sanger, “Relying On Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran’s Nuclear Aims,” New York Times, November 13, 2005. Congressional Research Service 25 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy for Iran to defeat the United States in a direct military confrontation. However, Iran has been able to project power—and in some cases attack U.S. and U.S.-allied military and political targets—by recruiting, advising, and arming of various Shiite and other armed factions in the region. Organizationally, Iran’s armed forces are divided to perform functions appropriate to their roles. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC, known in Persian as the Sepah-e-Pasdaran Enghelab Islami)32 controls the Basij (Mobilization of the Oppressed) volunteer militia that has been the main instrument to repress domestic dissent. The IRGC also has a national defense role and it and the regular military (Artesh)—the national army that existed under the former Shah— report to a joint headquarters, headed by Dr. Hassan Firuzabadi. The Artesh is deployed mainly at bases outside major cities and its leaders have publicly asserted that the regular military does not have a mandate to suppress public demonstrations and will not do so. The IRGC Navy and regular Navy (Islamic Republic of Iran Navy, IRIN) are distinct forces; the IRIN has responsibility for the Gulf of Oman, whereas the IRGC Navy has responsibility for the closer-in Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. The regular Air Force controls most of Iran’s combat aircraft, whereas the IRGC Air Force runs Iran’s ballistic missile programs. Iran has a small number of warships on its Caspian Sea coast. In January 2014, Iran sent some warships into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time ever, presumably to try to demonstrate growing naval strength. Iran’s armed forces have few formal relationships with foreign militaries outside the region. Iran’s military-to-military relationships with Russia, China, Ukraine, Belarus, and North Korea generally have focused on Iranian arms purchases or upgrades. Iranian technicians reportedly have attended at least some of North Korea’s missile and space launches. Iran and India have a “strategic dialogue” and some Iranian naval officers reportedly underwent some training in India in the 1990s. Iran’s military also conducted joint exercises with the Pakistani armed forces in the early 1990s. In September 2014, two Chinese warships docked at Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas, for the first time in history, to conduct four days of naval exercises,33 and in October the leader of Iran’s regular (not IRGC) Navy made the first visit ever to China by an Iranian Navy commander. Sales to Iran of most conventional arms (arms on a U.N. Conventional Arms Registry) are banned by U.N. Resolution 1929 of June 2010 and many of these relationships have lapsed. However, arms sales might revive because of the provision of Resolution 2231 (which takes effect on Implementation Day) that drops the worldwide arms trade ban with Iran in a maximum of five years. Successive National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) have authorized an annual Administration report on the “military power of Iran.” The FY2016 NDAA (P.L. 114-92) extends the reporting requirement until the end of 2025, and adds a requirement to report on Iran’s offensive and defensive cyber capabilities as part of the assessment. Asymmetric Warfare Capacity/Threat to the Gulf Iran appears to be attempting to compensate for its conventional military weaknesses by developing a significant capacity for “asymmetric warfare.” The unclassified executive summary of the 2014 Defense Department report on Iran’s military capability says that Iran continues to develop “anti-access and area denial” capabilities to control the Strait of Hormuz and its 32 For a more extensive discussion of the IRGC, see Katzman, Kenneth, “The Warriors of Islam: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard,” Westview Press, 1993. 33 Thomas Erdbrink and Chris Buckley. “China’s Navy Sends Ships for Exercises with Iran.” New York Times, September 22, 2014. Congressional Research Service 26 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy approaches. Iran’s strategy appears to be to “swarm” U.S. naval assets with its fleet of small boats and large numbers of anti-ship cruise missiles and its inventory of coastal defense cruise missiles such as the Silkworm or Seersucker. It is also developing increasingly lethal systems such as more advanced naval mines and submarines.34 It also has the ability to lay numerous mines in the narrow Strait of Hormuz. Iran has added naval bases along its Gulf coast in recent years, enhancing its ability to threaten shipping in the Strait. In February 2013, Iran began constructing an additional naval base near Iran’s border with Pakistan, on the Sea of Oman. The purpose of Iran threatening or trying to block the Strait could be to threaten the world economy, perhaps in order to extract concessions from the international community. It is a longasserted core U.S. interest to preserve the free flow of oil and freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, which is only about 20 miles wide at its narrowest point. The Strait is identified by the Energy Information Administration as a key potential “chokepoint” for the world economy. Each day, about 17 million barrels of oil flow through the Strait, which is 35% of all seaborne traded oil and 20% of all worldwide traded oil.35 Iran stopped several commercial ships transiting the Strait in mid-2015 with the asserted purpose of forcing a resolution of commercial disputes with the shipping companies involved. However, the stoppages might have been intended to demonstrate Iran’s potential ability to control the Strait. Table 4. Iran’s Conventional Military Arsenal Military Personnel: 475,000+. Regular army ground force is about 350,000, Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ground force is about 100,000. IRGC navy is about 20,000 and regular navy is about 18,000. Regular Air Force has about 30,000 personnel and IRGC Air Force is of unknown size. Security Forces: About 40,000-60,000 law enforcement forces on duty, with another 600,000 Basij (volunteer militia under IRGC control) available for combat or internal security missions. Tanks: 1,650+ Includes 480 Russian-made T-72 Ships: 100+ (IRGC and regular Navy) Includes 4 Corvette; 18 IRGC-controlled Chinese-made patrol boats, several hundred small boats.) Also has 3 Kilo subs (reg. Navy controlled). 2012 DOD report says Iran may have acquired additional ships and submarines over the past two years, but does not stipulate a supplier, if any. Midget Subs: Iran has been long said to possess several small subs, possibly purchased assembled or in kit form from North Korea. Iran claimed on November 29, 2007, to have produced a new small sub equipped with sonar-evading technology, and it claimed to deploy four Iranian-made “Ghadir class” subs to the Red Sea in June 2011. Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs): 150+ I-Hawk plus possibly some Stinger Combat Aircraft: 330+ Includes 25 MiG-29 and 30 Su-24. Still dependent on U.S. F-4’s, F-5’s and F-14 bought during Shah’s era. Anti-aircraft Missile Systems: Russia delivered to Iran (January 2007) 30 anti-aircraft missile systems (Tor M1), worth over $1 billion. In December 2007, Russia agreed to sell the highly capable S-300 air defense system, which would greatly enhance Iran’s air defense capability, at an estimated cost of $800 million. Sale of the system would not technically violate U.N. Resolution 1929, because the system is not covered in the U.N. Registry on Conventional Arms, but in September 2010, Russia refused to deliver the system on the grounds that doing so would violate Resolution 1929. In August 2011, Iran and Russia took their dispute over the non-delivery of the S-300 to the International Court of Justice. After the April 2, 2015, framework nuclear accord, Russian officials indicated they would proceed with the S-300 delivery. There have been no published reports that it has been delivered to date. Defense Budget: About 3% of GDP, or about $15 billion - $30 billion. Out of a total national budget of about $300 billion. 34 Department of Defense. Unclassified Executive Summary. “Annual Report on Military Power of Iran.” January 2014. 35 http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=18991. Congressional Research Service 27 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Sources: IISS Military Balance (2015)—Section on Middle East and North Africa, and various press reports. Table 5. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) The IRGC is generally loyal to Iran’s political hardliners and is clearly more politically influential than is Iran’s regular military, which is numerically larger, but was held over from the Shah’s era. The IRGC’s political influence has grown sharply as the regime has relied on it to suppress dissent. A Rand Corporation study stated: “Founded by a decree from Ayatollah Khomeini shortly after the victory of the 1978-1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has evolved well beyond its original foundations as an ideological guard for the nascent revolutionary regime... The IRGC’s presence is particularly powerful in Iran’s highly factionalized political system, in which [many senior figures] hail from the ranks of the IRGC...” Through its Qods (Jerusalem) Force (QF), the IRGC has a foreign policy role in exerting influence throughout the region by supporting pro-Iranian movements and leaders. The IRGC-QF numbers approximately 10,000-15,000 personnel who provide advice, support, and arrange weapons deliveries to pro-Iranian factions or leaders in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Persian Gulf states, Gaza/West Bank, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. IRGC leaders have confirmed the QF is in Syria to assist the regime of Bashar al-Assad against an armed uprising, and it is advising the Iraqi government against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) – tacitly aligning it there with U.S. forces. Section 1223 of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-92) requires a DOD report any U.S. military interaction with the IRGC-QF, presumably in Iraq. The QF commander, Brigadier General Qassem Soleimani reportedly has an independent channel to Khamene’i. The QF commander during 1988-1995 was Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi, who served as Defense minister during 2009-2013. He led the QF when it allegedly assisted Lebanese Hezbollah carry out two bombings of Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires (1992 and 1994) and is wanted by Interpol for a role in the 1994 bombing there. He allegedly recruited Saudi Hezbollah activists later accused of the June 1996 Khobar Towers bombing. IRGC leadership developments are significant because of the political influence of the IRGC. Mohammad Ali Jafari has been Commander in Chief of the IRGC since September 2007. He is considered a hardliner against political dissent and a close ally of the Supreme Leader. He criticized Rouhani for accepting a phone call from President Obama on September 27, 2013, and has continued to oppose major concessions as part of a permanent nuclear settlement. The Basij militia reports to the IRGC commander in chief; its leader is Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi. It operates from thousands of positions in Iran’s institutions. Command reshuffles in July 2008 integrated the Basij more closely with provincially based IRGC units and increased the Basij role in internal security. In November 2009, the regime gave the IRGC’s intelligence units greater authority, perhaps surpassing those of the Ministry of Intelligence, in monitoring dissent. The IRGC Navy has responsibility to patrol the Strait of Hormuz and the regular Navy has responsibility for the broader Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman (deeper waters further off the coast). As noted, the IRGC is also increasingly involved in Iran’s economy, acting through a network of contracting businesses it has set up, most notably Ghorb (also called Khatem ol-Anbiya, Persian for “Seal of the Prophet”). Active duty IRGC senior commanders reportedly serve on Ghorb’s board of directors and its chief executive, Rostam Ghasemi, served as Oil Minister during 2011-2013. In September 2009, the Guard bought a 50% stake in Iran Telecommunication Company at a cost of $7.8 billion. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 27, 2014, that Khatam ol-Anbia has $50 billion in contracts with the Iranian government, including in the energy sector but also in port and highway construction. It has as many as 40,000 employees. On October 21, 2007, the Treasury Department designated several IRGC companies as proliferation entities under Executive Order 13382. Also that day, the IRGC as a whole, the Ministry of Defense, several IRGC commanders, and several Iranian banks were sanctioned under that same executive order. Simultaneously, the Qods Force was named as a terrorism supporting entity under Executive Order 13224. These orders freeze the U.S.-based assets and prevent U.S. transactions with the named entities, but these entities are believed to have virtually no U.S.-based assets. On June 9, 2011, the IRGC and Basij were named as human rights abusers under Executive Order 13553, with the same penalties as the above Executive Orders. The United States will not be removing any of the IRGC designations under the JCPOA, but the EU will be doing so in about eight years. Sources: Include Frederic Wehrey et al., “The Rise of the Pasdaran,” Rand Corporation, 2009; Katzman, Kenneth, “The Warriors of Islam: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard,” Westview Press, 1993; Dept. of the Treasury; http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/09/30/130930fa_fact_filkins?printable=true&currentPage=all. Congressional Research Service 28 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Power Projection through Allies and Proxies: the Qods Force An instrument of Iran’s national security policy is support for armed factions in the region, some of which are named as terrorist organizations by the United States. Doing so helps Iran expand its influence with little direct risk, gives Tehran a measure of deniability, and serves as a “force multiplier” that compensates for a relatively weak conventional force. Some U.S. officials have predicted that, in the event of a U.S.-Iran confrontation, Iran would try to retaliate through terrorist attacks inside the United States or against U.S. embassies and facilities in Europe or the Persian Gulf. Iran could also try to direct Iran-supported forces in Afghanistan or Iraq to attack U.S. personnel there. Iran’s support for armed factions that use international terrorism, particularly Lebanese Hezbollah, formed the basis of Iran’s addition to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism (“terrorism list”) in January 1984. For a detailed assessment of Iran’s overall foreign policy and the Qods Force involvement in supporting regional allies and proxies, see CRS Report R44017, Iran’s Foreign Policy, by Kenneth Katzman. U.S. Policy Responses and Options The varied threats to U.S. interests posed by Iran have engendered a complex mixture of U.S. responses and consideration of further options, as discussed in the sections below. Obama Administration Policy: Pressure Coupled with Engagement Upon taking office, President Obama asserted that there was an opportunity to persuade Iran to limit its nuclear program through diplomacy and to re-build a U.S.-Iran relationship after decades of estrangement and enmity. Some Obama Administration officials expressed skepticism that engagement would yield changes in Iran’s policies, while other officials argued that the United States needed to present Iran with a clearer choice between the consequences of refusing to address international demands on its nuclear program and the benefits of accepting limitations. The Administration’s initial approach emerged in President Obama’s first message to the Iranian people on the occasion of Nowruz (Persian New Year) on March 21, 2009. He stated that the United States “is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran, and the international community.” He also referred to Iran as “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” a formulation not generally used by officials favoring regime change. Other early steps included the following.    President Obama’s reported two letters in 2009 to Iran’s Supreme Leader expressing the Administration’s philosophy in favor of engagement with Iran. Additional letters have been exchanged since, according to U.S. officials including President Obama. A major speech to the “Muslim World” in Cairo on June 4, 2009, in which President Obama acknowledged that the United States had played a role in the overthrow of Mossadeq, and said that Iran had a right to peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the NPT. An announcement on April 8, 2009, that U.S. officials would attend all P5+1 meetings with Iran, and a loosening of restrictions on U.S. diplomats to meet their Iranian counterparts at international meetings. Congressional Research Service 29 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy 2009-2013: Emphasis on Economic Pressure At the end of 2009, Iran’s crackdown on the election-related unrest that year and its refusal to accept compromises to limit its nuclear program caused the Administration to shift to a “two track strategy:” stronger economic pressure coupled with nuclear negotiations that offered the prospect of sanctions relief. The sanctions imposed during 2010 and 2013 received broad international support and cooperation and were highly effective in causing economic difficulty in Iran, as discussed in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman. The Administration also criticized Iran’s human rights abuses, altered some trade regulations to help Iranians circumvent their government’s restrictions on Internet usage, and continued to fund exchanges with civil society activists in Iran. The Administration repeatedly stated that a military option is “on the table” and it continued to work with the Persian Gulf states and other regional allies, as discussed in detail below. 2013-Present: Rouhani Presidency The election of Hassan Rouhani in June 2013 provided the Administration an opportunity to emphasize diplomacy. The Administration reiterated an offer, first stated by Vice President Biden in February 2013, to engage in direct talks with Iran on the nuclear issue. On September 20, 2013, with U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York about to begin, the Washington Post published an op-ed by Rouhani stating a commitment to engage in constructive interaction with the world. President Obama, in his September 24, 2013, speech, confirmed that he had exchanged letters with Rouhani stating the U.S. willingness to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully and that the United States “[is] not seeking regime change.”36 An Obama-Rouhani meeting did not occur, reportedly because of Rouhani’s perceived need to avoid angering hardline regime elements in Iran, but President Obama called Rouhani by phone on September 27, 2013—the first direct contact between presidents of the two countries since the 1979 revolution. Since then, the United States and Iran have held bilateral meetings at the margins of all nuclear talks, including discussions of regional issues such as the Islamic State organization, as well as the detention of several dual citizens discussed above. President Obama has stated a hope that the JCPOA would “usher[] in a new era in U.S.-Iranian relations,”37 but he and other senior U.S. officials have said that the merits of the JCPOA are independent of whether the agreement results in an improvement in U.S.-Iran relations. Still, U.S.-Iran relations have not improved, and might even have deteriorated, since the agreement was finalized – possibly reflecting Iranian political needs to mollify hardliners who asserted that the JCPOA represented a sellout of the Iranian revolution. Since the JCPOA was finalized, Supreme Leader Khamene’i and his hardline followers have stated repeatedly that the JCPOA will not change Iran’s foreign policy or its opposition to U.S. policy in the region. In September 2015, he stated that Israel would not likely exist in 25 years. Iran’s conviction of journalist Jason Rezaian in October 2015, its arrest of Siamak Namazi also in the fall of 2015 (see above), and its stepped up aid to the regime of Bashar Al Assad of Syria in concert with Russian intervention in Syria further clouded prospects to translate the JCPOA into a broader U.S.-Iran rapprochement. Iran’s missile test have led to U.S. new assertions that Iran has violated Resolution 1929. Despite the apparent deterioration in the overall climate for U.S.-Iran, President Obama briefly met Foreign Minister Zarif at the 2015 General Assembly sessions in September 2015, although there was no meeting with Rouhani during those sessions. 36 37 Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly, September 24, 2013. Roger Cohen. “U.S. Embassy, Tehran.” New York Times, April 8, 2015. Congressional Research Service 30 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy In December 2015, Iranian officials accused the United States of violating the JCPOA by imposing new visa requirements in the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriation (P.L. 114-113). According to its original sponsors, the provision provides an enhanced ability to prevent Islamic State operatives from entering the United States by imposing limits on the “Visa Waiver Program” to require citizens of or persons who visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan in the past five years to obtain a visa. Iranian officials argue that the provision will cause European businessmen to hesitate to travel to Iran, and will therefore limit the economic benefits of the sanctions relief to be provided under the JCPOA. The provision gives the Secretary of Homeland Security waiver authority and Secretary of State Kerry wrote a letter to Foreign Minister Zarif on December 19, 2015 stating that the new provision can be implemented by the United States so as not to interfere with “legitimate business interest of Iran.” Diplomatic Representation and Direct Flights. The lack of improvement in the relationship likely forestalls discussion of any enhancements of mutual diplomatic representation, including the possibility that Tehran might allow U.S. personnel to staff the U.S. interests section in Tehran. The Obama Administration has said embassy exchanges were not under discussion in connection with the Iran nuclear talks, but in May 2015 the two governments confirmed that they had granted each other permission to move their respective interests sections in Washington, DC, and in Tehran to more spacious locations. Nor is there open discussions of direct flights between Iran and the United States, even though the JCPOA commits the United States to licensing some sales of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran. As an example of the way in which past injuries continue to affect the relationship, in early 2014, Iran appointed one of those involved in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran—Hamid Aboutalebi—as ambassador to the United Nations. In April 2014, Congress passed S. 2195 (P.L. 113-100), which gave the Administration authority to deny him a visa to take up his duties. The United States subsequently announced he would not be admitted to the United States and Iran subsequently replaced him with Gholam Ali Khoshroo, who studied in the United States and served in the reformist government of president Khatemi. Military Options and U.S. Defense Posture in the Persian Gulf and Successive U.S. Administrations have sought to back up diplomacy with the capability to exercise significant military options against Iran. U.S. officials have, at various times, articulated that U.S. military action against Iran could be potentially used if (1) Iran attempts to become a nucleararmed state (2) Iran attacks or prepares to attack U.S. allies, such as Israel or the Persian Gulf states; (3) Iran attempts to interrupt the free flow of oil or shipping in the Gulf. In past years, the U.S. presence in the Gulf was also intended to contain Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Military Options to Prevent a Nuclear Iran Prior to the JCPOA, President Obama repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. In a March 2, 2012, interview in The Atlantic, President Obama clarified that the “military option” as meaning that there is a military component to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.38 S.J.Res. 41, which passed the Senate on September 22, 2012, in the 112th Congress, rejects any U.S. policy that relies on “containment” of a potential nuclear Iran, but acknowledges that President Obama has ruled out a containment policy. 38 Jeffrey Goldberg, “Obama to Iran and Israel: ‘As President of the United States, I Don’t Bluff’,” The Atlantic, March 2, 2012. Congressional Research Service 31 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy President Obama has repeated this assertion several times since the JCPOA as a possible response to Iran’s violation of the agreement or after the primary JCPOA restrictions expire.39 Some argue that the United States should make clear that the military option will be exercised if Iran seeks to develop a nuclear weapons after the restrictions of the JCPOA start to expire in ten years.40 The Administration argues that military action was not a preferable alternative to the JCPOA. The Administration asserts that military action would only set back Iran’s nuclear advancement temporarily—and with far less certainty or duration than the JCPOA. Senior U.S. officials stressed the potential adverse consequences of military action, such as Iranian retaliation that might expand throughout the region, a reduction of Iran’s regional isolation, a strengthening of Iran’s regime domestically, and an escalation of world oil prices.41 Most U.S. allies in Europe oppose military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities or for other purposes, unless Iran undertakes clearly provocative action. European and Asian countries tend to emphasize the potential consequences of military action against Iran, such as Iran’s possible attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz. Others argued that U.S. military action could set back Iran’s nuclear program substantially because there are a limited number of key targets and all targets, even the hardened Fordow site, are vulnerable to U.S. air power.42 Some argue that there are U.S. military options that would not require hostilities. These options include a naval embargo or a “no-fly zone” over Iran to pressure the regime. A U.S. ground invasion to remove Iran’s regime was not, at any time, apparently under serious consideration. A U.S. decision to take military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities might raise the question of presidential authorities. No legislation has been passed by both chambers and signed into law limiting the President’s authority to use military force against Iran. In the 109th Congress, H.Con.Res. 391 (introduced on April 26, 2006) called on the President to not initiate military action against Iran without first obtaining authorization from Congress. A similar bill, H.Con.Res. 33, was introduced in the 110th Congress. An amendment to H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2008, requiring authorization for force against Iran, was defeated 136 to 288. A provision that sought to bar the Administration from taking military action against Iran without congressional authorization was taken out of an early draft of an FY2007 supplemental appropriation (H.R. 1591). The FY2011 Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 111-383, signed January 7, 2011) contained a provision (§1243) requiring the Administration to develop a “National Military Strategy to Counter Iran.” Some proposals in the 114th Congress would authorize the use of force against Iran if Iran violates its commitments under the JCPOA. (H.J.Res. 62, H.J.Res. 65) U.S. Partnership with the Gulf States to Counter Iran U.S. military options against Iran depend, in large measure, on cooperation from the six Persian Gulf monarchy states, all led by Sunni royal families, that share the Persian Gulf and surrounding waterways with Iran. In 1981, perceiving a threat from revolutionary Iran and spillover from the Iran-Iraq war that began in September 1980, the six Gulf states—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, 39 Speech by President Obama at American University. August 7, 2015. President Obama Interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. Broadcast on August 9, 2015. 40 http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/StatementWeb2.pdf 41 http://2scottmontgomery.blogspot.com/2011/12/panetta-brookings-speech.html. 42 Joby Warrick, “Iran: Underground Sites Vulnerable, Experts Say,” Washington Post, March 1, 2012. For an extended discussion of U.S. air strike options on Iran, see Rogers, Paul. Iran: Consequences Of a War. Oxford Research Group, February 2006. Congressional Research Service 32 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates—formed an alliance called the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Systematic U.S.-GCC security cooperation developed during the Iran-Iraq war and expanded significantly after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. With Iraq militarily weak since the fall of Saddam Hussein, most of the GCC leaders have expressed concerns primarily about the influence and intentions of Iran in the Gulf and broader region. Some of the GCC leaders accuse Iran of fomenting unrest among Shiite communities in the GCC states themselves, particularly those in the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain, which has a majority Shiite population. The GCC leaders express concerns that a comprehensive nuclear deal could lead to a broader U.S.-Iran rapprochement and possibly weaken the U.S. commitment to Gulf security. The GCC states publicly backed the April 2, 2015, framework nuclear accord while asserting concerns about Iran’s “destabilizing activities in the region.” In light of these stated concerns, President Obama announced in his statement on the framework accord that he would invite the GCC leaders to Camp David later in 2015 to discuss Gulf security. The meetings were held May 13-14, 2015, between President Obama and two Gulf leaders (Amir of Kuwait and of Qatar) and leadership delegation of the other four GCC countries. The joint statement issued after the summit announced a new U.S.-GCC strategic partnership and reiterated that it is U.S. policy to use all elements of U.S. national power to secure core U.S. interests in the Gulf and to deter and confront external aggression “against our allies and partners ... ” An annex to the joint statement says that the United States will increase security cooperation with the GCC states in the following ways: (1) facilitating U.S. arms transfers to the GCC states; (2) increased U.S.-GCC cooperation on maritime security, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism; (3) organizing additional large-scale joint military exercises and U.S. training; and (4) stating a renewed commitment to a concept of a Gulf-wide ballistic missile defense capability, which the United States has sought to promote in recent years.43 The joint statement highlighted joint efforts to counter Iran’s “malign influence” in the region as well as a commitment to defeating the Islamic State and to countering violent extremism more broadly. Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry, visited the Gulf in July and August to build on the Camp David meetings. GCC Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their public support for the JCPOA during meetings with Secretary Kerry on August 3, 2015, saying in a joint U.S.-GCC statement that: “the Ministers agreed that, once fully implemented, the JCPOA contributes to the region’s long-term security, including by preventing Iran from developing or acquiring a military nuclear capability.”44 On September 4, 2015, King Salman met with President Obama at the White House, indicating that Saudi Arabia was accommodating to the reality of the JCPOA. The two leaders issued a joint statement that, among other provisions, expressed Saudi support for the JCPOA, affirmed the need to continue efforts to counter Iran’s destabilizing regional activities, and stated that the two countries discussed “fasttracking” the provision of U.S. military equipment to Saudi Arabia and increasing cooperation on counterterrorism, maritime security, cybersecurity, and ballistic missile defense.45 The tone of the communique of the December 9-10, 2015 annual GCC summit again turned somewhat less positive on Iran, calling “on the need to adhere” to the JCPOA, calling Iran’s October 10 missile 43 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/14/annex-us-gulf-cooperation-council-camp-david-jointstatement. 44 Department of State. Joint Statement of the U.S.-GCC Foreign Ministers Meeting. August 3, 2015. 45 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/04/joint-statement-meeting-between-president-barack-obamaand-king-salman Congressional Research Service 33 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy test a “savage infringement” of Resolution 1929, and “reject[ing]” Iran’s interference into the internal affairs of the GCC states and the region.46 The post-JCPOA U.S.-GCC meetings and agreements continued a long process of formalizing a U.S.-GCC strategic partnership, including the “U.S.-GCC Strategic Dialogue” inaugurated by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in March 2012. In February 2010, then-Secretary Clinton also raised the issue of a possible U.S. extension of a “security umbrella” or guarantee to regional states against Iran.47 The GCC states reportedly had sought such a commitment at the Camp David summit, but the joint statement instead stated that In the event of [ ] aggression or the threat of [ ] aggression [against the GCC states], the United States stands ready to work with our GCC partners to determine urgently what action may be appropriate, using the means at our collective disposal, including the potential use of military force, for the defense of our GCC partners. 48 Countering Iran’s Regional Activities The U.S.-GCC strategic partnership has manifested in a number of joint regional operations intended to counter Iran’s regional influence. The most prominent of these operations include:    U.S. logistical and intelligence support for Saudi-led efforts to counter an offensive by Zaidi Shiite “Houthi” rebels in Yemen. The Houthis receive some Iranian support. U.S. forces have provided logistical support to a Saudi-led Arab military campaign of airstrikes and ground combat against the Houthis that began in March 2015. U.S. naval forces have helped block seaborne Iranian weapons shipments to the Houthis. In Syria, the GCC states are supporting forces that seek to remove Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, who is backed extensively by Iran and Russia. To try to do so, the GCC countries are providing funds and arms to rebel forces fighting the Assad government, including transferring some U.S-made weapons. U.S. officials have stated that Assad’s removal from office and the formation of a transition government is part of an overall strategy of defeating the Islamic State. At the same time, Iran, the GCC states, and the United States are all fighting the Islamic State. Iran is not part of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, but works separately against that organization in Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Syria. Several GCC countries have participated in the U.S.-led airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, and U.S. forces leading the anti-Islamic State effort are using their longstanding access to GCC military facilities discussed below. However, the GCC air forces have limited their strikes to Syria, not Iraq, in part because they appear to view the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq as aligned with Iran and repressive of Sunni Iraqis. GCC Military Capacity and U.S. Deployments in the Gulf A key component of the military component of U.S. strategy in the Gulf is the maintenance of a large U.S. military presence in the Gulf. Since the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, there have 46 http://www.bna.bh/portal/en/news/700828. Paul Richter and Alexandra Davis. “U.S. Promises to Beef Up Defense Aid to Persian Gulf Allies.” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2015. 48 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/14/us-gulf-cooperation-council-camp-david-joint-statement. 47 Congressional Research Service 34 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy been about 35,000 forces in the Gulf region. Most of them are stationed at various Gulf state facilities that the United States has access to, in accordance with Defense Cooperation Agreements (DCAs) between the United States and these countries. Some of the forces are aboard the at least one U.S. aircraft carrier task force that is in the Gulf region virtually continuously, although there will be no carrier in the Gulf for much of the fall of 2015.49 The DCA’s and other agreements not only stipulate modalities of joint cooperation, but also reportedly provide for the United States to preposition substantial military equipment and to have operational access to Gulf state military facilities.50 Section 1234 of the FY2016 NDAA (P.L. 114-92) requires a report within 120 days of enactment (the law was signed December 1, 2015, meaning the report is due by March 30, 2016) on any U.S. security commitments to Middle Eastern countries, including the GCC, and the U.S. force posture required to meet those commitments. U.S. arms sales to the GCC countries have been intended to improve their air and naval capabilities and their interoperability with U.S. forces, as well as to improve border and maritime security. The United States has continued to agree to major sales to virtually all of the GCC states, including such equipment as combat aircraft, precision-guided munitions, Littoral Combat Ships, radar systems, and communications gear. The U.S.-GCC defense posture in the Gulf is as follows:51    Saudi Arabia. The United States does not have a DCA with Saudi Arabia. However, under separate memoranda of understanding, a few hundred U.S. military personnel are in Saudi Arabia training its military, Saudi Arabia National Guard (SANG), and Ministry of Interior forces. The Saudi force has about 225,000 active duty personnel, with about 600 tanks, of which 200 are U.S.-made M1A2 “Abrams” tanks. The Saudi Air Force relies heavily on the U.S.-made F15 “Eagle.” Kuwait. The United States has had a DCA with Kuwait since 1991, and over 13,000 U.S. Army personnel are stationed there, providing ground combat capability in the wake of the full U.S withdrawal from Iraq. Kuwait also hosts the U.S.-led headquarters for Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the military component of the multilateral campaign against the Islamic State. U.S. forces operate from such facilities as Camp Arifjan, south of Kuwait City, where the United States prepositions ground armor including M1A2 Abrams tanks. U.S. forces train at Camp Buehring, about 50 miles west of the capital, and use several Kuwaiti air bases. Kuwait has a small force of about 15,000 active military personnel. Its Air Force relies almost exclusively on U.S. equipment, including the Abrams tank and the F/A-18 “Hornet” combat aircraft. Qatar. The United States has had a DCA with Qatar since 1992, which was revised in December 2013. About 5,000 U.S. forces, mostly Air Force, are in Qatar, manning the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command 49 http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/05/politics/no-aircraft-carrier-persian-gulf-iran/ The texts of the DCAs and related agreements are classified, but general information on the provisions of the agreements has been provided in some open sources, including http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/ pub185.pdf. 51 The U.S. deployments in the Gulf are discussed in greater detail in CRS reports on the individual GCC states. Information in this section is derived from author visits to the GCC states since 1993 and conversations with U.S. and Gulf state diplomats. See also: International Institute for Strategic Studies, “The Military Balance, 2015.” 50 Congressional Research Service 35 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy    (CENTCOM), which has responsibility for the Middle East and Central Asia; a Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) that oversees U.S. combat aircraft missions in the region; the large Al Udeid Air Base, and the As Saliyah army prepositioning site where U.S. tanks are prepositioned. Qatar’s armed force is small with about 12,000 active military personnel. Qatar has historically relied on French military equipment, fielding AMX-30 tanks and Mirage combat aircraft. In May 2015, during a visit to the Gulf by French President Francois Hollande, Qatar agreed to buy 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets worth about $7 billion.52 UAE. The United States has had a DCA with UAE since 1994. About 5,000 U.S. forces, mostly Air Force and Navy, are stationed in UAE, operating surveillance and refueling aircraft from Al Dhafra Air Base, and servicing U.S. Navy and contract ships which dock at the large commercial port of Jebel Ali. The UAE armed forces include about 63,000 active duty personnel. Its ground forces use primarily French tanks such as the Leclerc purchased in the 1990s and the AMX30, but its air forces are equipped with F-16s the country has bought from the United States in recent years. The UAE has stated that it wants to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but U.S. officials have stated that the system will not be approved for sale to the GCC for at least several years after the aircraft is delivered to Israel, based on U.S. policy to maintain Israel’’ “Qualitative Military Edge” (QME). Bahrain. The United States has had a DCA with Bahrain since 1991. About 6,000 U.S. personnel, mostly Navy, operate out of the large Naval Support Activity facility that houses the U.S. command structure for all U.S. naval operations in the Gulf. U.S. Air Force personnel also access Shaykh Isa Air Base. Bahrain has the smallest military in the Gulf, with only about 6,000 active personnel, but it has internal security forces under the Ministry of Interior with about 11,000 personnel. The United States has given Bahrain older model U.S. M60A3 tanks and a frigate ship as “excess defense articles,” and the country has bought U.S.made F-16s with national funds. In June 2015, the Administration released a “hold” on a sale of TOW anti-tank weapons and Humvee vehicles that was placed on the sale in May 2011 on the grounds that Bahrain could use the equipment to crack down on the unrest that erupted in February 2011. The Administration justified the release by asserting that Bahrain’s human rights record has improved over the past year. Oman. The United States has had a “facilities access agreement” (not a DCA) with Oman since April 1980. Under the agreement, U.S. forces, mostly Air Force, have access to Omani air bases such as those at Seeb, Masirah Island, Thumrait, and Musnanah. A few hundred U.S. forces serve at these facilities. Oman has a 25,000 person force that has historically relied on British-made military equipment. The United States has provided some M60A3 tanks as excess defense articles, and Oman has bought F-16s using national funds. The United States has consistently sought to promote greater defense cooperation among the GCC states, particularly by attempting to deal with the GCC countries as a bloc, rather than individually. However, suspicions and grievances among the GCC states have slowed progress on that concept to date. In the past few years, at their annual summit held each December, the GCC 52 France and Qatar Seal $7 Billion Rafale Fighter Jet Deal. Reuters, April 30, 2015. Congressional Research Service 36 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy leaders have formally supported suggestions by Saudi Arabia to form a unified GCC military command structure, but there is little evidence of implementation to date. In addition, even though the GCC states are large buyers of U.S. and other military equipment, commentators often question the level of training and expertise of the Gulf military forces. Some of the GCC states rely heavily on foreign troops in their ranks, such as Pakistani troops serving under contract. On the other hand, some police units in Bahrain and some UAE forces have acquired sufficient expertise to help U.S. forces that have sought to stabilize Afghanistan. And, some GCC ground forces have apparently fought ably in Yemen, pushing the Houthi rebels back in several places and paving the way for talks that might restores the authority of the elected government of Abd Rabbu Mansour Al Hadi. Assistance Issues. The GCC states are considered wealthy states, and several of them have higher per capita GDP than does the United States itself. The two least wealthy GCC states, Bahrain and Oman, are or are able to be subsidized by the four wealthier GCC countries. Only Bahrain and Oman receive significant amounts of U.S. military assistance, and the amounts they receive are miniscule compared to military aid to such other Arab allies of the United States as Egypt or Jordan. For FY2016, the Administration has requested only about $5.5 million in military and counterterrorism aid to Oman, and about $8 million for Bahrain. Coordinated Missile Defense Successive U.S. Administrations have sought to organize a coordinated GCC missile defense system, building on the individual capabilities and purchases of each GCC country. Secretary of Defense Hagel emphasized this concept during December 2013 and May 2014 visits to the Gulf, including stating that the United States prefers to sell related equipment to the GCC as a bloc, rather than individually. As part of this effort, there have been several recent missile defense sales including PAC-3 sales to UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia; and the advanced “THAAD” (Theater High Altitude Area Defense) to UAE and Qatar. Oman reportedly is negotiating to buy the THAAD as well. No THAAD systems have been delivered to any GCC state, to date. In September 2012, the United States put in place an early-warning missile defense radar in Qatar that, when combined with radars in Israel and Turkey, would provide a wide range of coverage against Iran’s missile forces.53 Separate from the efforts to forge a Gulf-wide missile defense, the United States has sought a defense against an eventual long-range Iranian missile system. In August 2008, the George W. Bush Administration reached agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic to establish a missile defense system to counter Iranian ballistic missiles. These agreements were reached over Russia’s opposition, which was based on the belief that the missile defense system would be used to neutralize Russian capabilities. However, reportedly based on assessments of Iran’s focus on missiles of regional range, on September 17, 2009, the Obama Administration reoriented this missile defense program to focus on ship-based systems and systems based in other European countries, including Romania. Some saw this as an effort to win Russia’s support for additional sanctions on Iran, although Russia continues to disagree with the plan. The FY2013 national defense authorization act (P.L. 112-239) contained provisions urging the Administration to undertake more extensive efforts, in cooperation with U.S. partners and others, to defend against the missile programs of Iran (and North Korea). 53 David Sanger and Eric Schmitt, “To Calm Israel, U.S. Offers Ways to Restrain Iran,” New York Times, September 3, 2012. Congressional Research Service 37 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Table 6. Military Assets of the Gulf Cooperation Council Member States Bahrain Total Manpower 8,200+ Kuwait 15,500+ Oman Saudi Arabia Qatar UAE 42,600+ 11,800 227,000+ 63,000 ARMY and NATIONAL GUARD Personnel 6,000 11,000 25,000 8,500 175,000 44,400 Main Battle Tanks 180 293 154 39 600 467 AIFV/APC 225 789 206 230 3,011 1,957 Artillery 151 218 233 91+ 771 579+ Attack Helicopters — — — — 15 — SAMs 91 136+ 48 75 1,805 N/A Personnel 700 2,000 4,200 1,800 13,500 2,500 Destroyers /Frigates 1 — 3 — 7 — Submarines — — 2 — — 10 Patrol/Coastal Combatants 64 52 46 23 83 141 Amphibious Landing Craft 1 4 — — 8 — Personnel (Air Defense) 1,500 2,500 5,000 1,500 20,000 (16,000) 4,500 Fighter Aircraft 33 39 15 12 261 138 (18 JAC) Attack Helicopters 28 16 — 8 — 37 (JAC) NAVY AIR FORCE MISSILE DEFENSE Patriot PAC-2 Yes Yes — Yes Yes Yes Patriot PAC-3 Yes Yes — Yes Yes Yes Congressional Research Service 38 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Bahrain THAAD — Kuwait — Oman — Saudi Arabia Qatar Ordered — UAE Ordered Source: Compiled by Hector Pina using The Military Balance, 2015, Vol. 115, current as of February 10, 2015, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies Notes: AIFV= Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle, APC= Armored Personnel Carrier, SAM= Surface-to-Air Missile, THAAD= Terminal High Altitude Area Defense Potential for Israeli Military Action Against Iran54 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has asserted that a nuclear-armed Iran would constitute an existential threat to Israel, and that Israel would take unilateral action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Netanyahu has opposed the JCPOA as a “historic mistake.” Still, most outside experts consider an Israeli military strike on Iran unlikely if the JCPOA is implemented and Iran is assessed as complying. The JCPOA was endorsed by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 and a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in an environment of Iranian compliance with the JCPOA could potentially constitute a violation of that Resolution. Earlier, before the JPA or JCPOA, in May 2013, by a vote of 99-0, the Senate passed a “sense of Congress” resolution, S.Res. 65, that the United States should support Israel diplomatically, economically, and militarily if it felt compelled to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities. Although Israeli strategists say that a strike might be a viable option, several U.S. experts doubt that Israel has the capability to make such action sufficiently effective to justify the risks. The IAF is capable but far smaller than that of the United States, and could require overflight of several countries not likely to support Israeli action, such as Iraq. Economic Sanctions The United States and its partners have employed economic sanctions to try to cause Iran to agree to limits on its nuclear program, to reassess the wisdom of supporting regional armed factions, and to limit Iranian power generally. The imposition and effectiveness of sanctions is analyzed in considerable depth in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman. An outline of the existing sanctions regime is provided in the box below. 54 This option is analyzed in substantial depth in CRS Report R42443, Israel: Possible Military Strike Against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities, coordinated by Jim Zanotti. Congressional Research Service 39 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Table 7. Selected Economic Indicators Population About 80 million Economic Growth Negative 5% growth in 2013, flat to minor (1%) growth in 2014 Per Capita Income $12,800/yr (purchasing power parity) (2013) GDP $988 billion (purchasing power parity) (2013) Proven Oil Reserves 135 billion barrels (highest after Russia and Canada) Oil Production/Exports About 1.1 mbd exports since the end of 2013. (About1.3 mbd with condensates) Major Oil/Gas Customers Remaining customers: primarily China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey. Turkey also buys 8.6 billion cubic meters/yr of gas from Iran. Major Export Markets Mirrors major oil customers. Major Imports Mirrors major oil customers. Inflation About 25%, down from about 42% in 2013-2014. Unemployment Rate Official rate is 15.3%, but outside experts believe the rate is higher Sources: CIA, The World Factbook; various press; IMF; Iran Trade Planning Division; CRS conversations with experts and foreign diplomats. Table 8. Summary of Existing U.S. Sanctions Against Iran Ban on U.S. Trade With and Investment in Iran. Executive Order 12959 (May 6, 1995) bans almost all U.S. trade with and investment in Iran. P.L. 111-195 (Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, CISADA) codifies the trade ban, which generally does not apply to foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms. P.L. 112-239 sanctions most foreign dealings with Iran’s energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sector, as well as the sale of certain items for Iranian industrial processes and the transfer to Iran of precious metals (often a form of payment for oil or gas). U.S. Sanctions Against Foreign Firms that Deal With Iran’s Energy Sector. The Iran Sanctions Act (P.L. 104-172) has been amended several times and authorizes the imposition of five out of a menu of twelve sanctions on firms determined to have: invested more than $20 million to develop Iran’s petroleum (oil and gas) sector; bought Iranian oil (unless such country has a sanctions exemption under the FY2012 National Defense Act, see below); sold Iran more than $1 million worth of gasoline or equipment to import gasoline or refine oil into gasoline; sold $1 million or more worth of energy equipment to Iran; provided shipping services to transport oil from Iran; engaged in an energy joint venture with Iran outside Iran; or bought Iran’s sovereign debt. Sanctions On Iran’s Central Bank. CISADA bans accounts with banks that do business with the Revolutionary Guard and sanctioned entities and the Treasury Department in November 2011 declared Iran’s financial system an entity of primary money laundering concern. Section 1245 of the FY2012 National Defense Act (P.L. 112-81) prevents foreign banks that do business with Iran’s Central Bank from opening U.S. accounts unless the parent countries of the banks earn an exemption by “significantly reducing” their purchases of Iranian oil. Terrorism List Designation Sanctions. Iran’s designation by the Secretary of State as a “state sponsor of terrorism” (January 19, 1984—commonly referred to as the “terrorism list”) triggers several sanctions, including the following: (1) a ban on the provision of U.S. foreign assistance to Iran under Section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act; (2) a ban on arms exports to Iran under Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act (P.L. 95-92, as amended); (3) under Section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act (P.L. 96-72, as amended), a significant restriction—amended by other laws to a “presumption of denial”—on U.S. exports to Iran of items that could have military applications; (4) under Section 327 of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (P.L. 104-132, April 24, 1996), a requirement that U.S. representatives to international financial institutions vote against international loans to terrorism list states. Sanctions Against Foreign Firms that Aid Iran’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs. The Iran-Syria-North Korea Nonproliferation Act (P.L. 106-178, March 14, 2000, as amended) authorizes the Administration to impose sanctions on foreign persons or firms determined to have provided assistance to Iran’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Sanctions include restrictions on U.S. trade with the sanctioned entity. Sanctions Against Foreign Firms that Sell Advanced Arms to Iran. The Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act (P.L. 102-484, October 23, 1992, as amended) provides for U.S. sanctions against foreign firms that sell Iran “destabilizing numbers Congressional Research Service 40 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy and types of conventional weapons” or WMD technology. Ban on Transactions With Foreign Entities That Support International Terrorism. Executive Order 13324 (September 23, 2001) authorizes a ban on U.S. transactions with entities determined to be supporting international terrorism. The Order was not specific to Iran, but several Iranian entities have been designated. Ban on Transactions With Foreign Entities that Support Proliferation. Executive Order 13382 (June 28, 2005) amended previous executive orders to provide for a ban on U.S. transactions with entities determined to be supporting international proliferation. Numerous Iranian entities, including the IRGC itself, have been designated. Divestment. A Title in P.L. 111-195 authorizes and protects from lawsuits various investment managers who divest from shares of firms that conduct sanctionable business with Iran. Sanctions Against Human Rights Abuses, Internet Monitoring, and Regional Activities. Various laws and Executive Orders impose sanctions on named Iranian human rights abusers, on firms that sell equipment Iran can use to monitor the Internet usage of citizens or employ against demonstrators, and on Iranian persons or entities that suppress human rights in Syria or contribute to destabilizing Iraq. Source: CRS. For analysis and extended discussion of U.S. and international sanctions against Iran, see CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman. Further Option: Regime Change Even before the election of Rouhani, the Obama Administration has consistently sought to allay Iran’s long-standing suspicions that the main U.S. goal is to unseat the Islamic regime in Iran. In a September 24, 2013, General Assembly speech, President Obama explicitly stated the United States does not seek to change Iran’s regime. However, many of Iran’s leaders, particularly Khamene’i, continue to articulate a perception that the United States has never accepted the 1979 Islamic revolution. Khamene’i and other Iranian figures note that the United States provided some funding to anti-regime groups, mainly pro-monarchists, during the 1980s,55 and the George W. Bush Administration expressed apparent attraction to this option on several occasions. There was criticism in Iranian opposition and other circles of the Administration decision not to materially support the 2009 domestic uprising in Iran. The Administration asserts that it was critical of the regime crackdown on protests. On December 28, 2009, President Obama stated that “Along with all free nations, the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights.”56 On September 19, 2010, then-Secretary of State Clinton asserted that overt and extensive U.S. support for the opposition could undermine the opposition’s position in Iran. In 2011, the Administration reevaluated its stance slightly in the context of the broader Middle East uprisings. Statements by then-Secretary Clinton accused Iran of hypocrisy for supporting demonstrations in Egypt while preventing similar free expression inside Iran.57 Many observers noted that President Obama’s 2011Nowruz address was far more explicitly supportive of the Iranian opposition than in prior years, mentioning specific dissidents who have been jailed and saying to the “young people of Iran ... I want you to know that I am with you.”58 Since that statement, the Administration has sanctioned Iranian officials for human rights abuses in Iran and 55 CRS conversations with U.S. officials responsible for Iran policy. 1980-1990. After a period of suspension of such assistance, in 1995, the Clinton Administration accepted a House-Senate conference agreement to include $18-$20 million in funding authority for covert operations against Iran in the FY1996 Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 1655, P.L. 104-93), according to a Washington Post report of December 22, 1995. The Clinton Administration reportedly focused the covert aid on changing the regime’s behavior, rather than its overthrow. 56 White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Statement by the President on the Attempted Attack on Christmas Day and Recent Violence in Iran,” December 28, 2009. 57 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/02/27/statement-national-security-council-spokesman-tommyvietor-iran. 58 White House, “Remarks of President Obama Marking Nowruz,” March 20, 2011. Congressional Research Service 41 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy for assisting Syria with its crackdown against demonstrations. These statements and steps appeared to stop well short of promoting regime change, but Iran leaders interprets any public support for the domestic opposition as evidence of U.S. intent to overthrow the government. The JCPOA would appear to represent a further sign of Administration acceptance of Iran’s regime. At times, some in Congress have advocated that the United States adopt a formal policy of overthrow of the regime. In the 111th Congress, one bill said that it should be U.S. policy to promote the overthrow of the regime (The Iran Democratic Transition Act, S. 3008). Democracy Promotion and Internet Freedom Efforts In the absence of all-out U.S. pursuit of regime change, successive Administrations and Congress have promoted political evolution in Iran through “democracy promotion” and sanctions on Iranian human rights abuses. The laws and Executive Orders discussed in this section are analyzed in greater detail in CRS Report RS20871, Iran Sanctions, by Kenneth Katzman. That report also contains tables listing Iranian entities sanctioned under these provisions. Binding legislation authorizing democracy promotion in Iran was enacted in the 109th Congress. The Iran Freedom Support Act (P.L. 109-293), signed September 30, 2006, authorized funds (no specific dollar amount) for Iran democracy promotion.59 Several laws and Executive Orders issued since 2010 are intended to promote Internet freedom, and the Administration has amended U.S.-Iran trade regulations to allow for the sale to Iranians of consumer electronics and software that help them communicate. Then Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman testified on October 14, 2011, that some of the democracy promotion funding for Iran has been to train Iranians in the use of technologies that undermine regime Internet censorship efforts. Many have argued that U.S. funding for such programs is counter-productive. Even before the post-2009 election crackdown, Iran was arresting civil society activists by alleging they are accepting the U.S. democracy promotion funds, while others have refused to participate in U.S.funded programs, fearing arrest.60 Perhaps to address these criticisms, the Obama Administration altered Iran democracy promotion programs somewhat toward working directly with Iranians inside Iran who are organized around apolitical issues as health, science, and the environment.61 The State Department, which often uses appropriated funds to support pro-democracy programs run by organizations based in the United States and in Europe, refuses to name grantees for security reasons. The funds shown below have been obligated through DRL and the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in partnership with USAID. Some of the funds have also been used for cultural exchanges, public diplomacy, and broadcasting to Iran. A further indication of the sensitivity of specifying the use of the funds is that, since FY2010, the Obama Administration has requested funds for Iran democracy promotion as part of a broader “Near East regional democracy programs” rather than delineating a specific request for Iran programs. Iran asserts that funding democracy promotion represents a violation of the 1981 “Algiers Accords” that settled the Iran hostage crisis and provide for non-interference in each other’s 59 This legislation was a modification of H.R. 282, which passed the House on April 26, 2006, by a vote of 397-21, and S. 333, which was introduced in the Senate. 60 Three other Iranian Americans were arrested and accused by the Intelligence Ministry of actions contrary to national security in May 2007: U.S. funded broadcast (Radio Farda) journalist Parnaz Azima (who was not in jail but was not allowed to leave Iran); Kian Tajbacksh of the Open Society Institute funded by George Soros; and businessman and peace activist Ali Shakeri. Several congressional resolutions called on Iran to release Esfandiari (S.Res. 214, agreed to by the Senate on May 24;H.Res. 430, passed by the House on June 5; andS.Res. 199 ). All were released by October 2007. Tajbacksh was rearrested in September 2009 and remains incarcerated. 61 CRS conversation with U.S. officials of the “Iran Office” of the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, October 2009. Congressional Research Service 42 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy internal affairs. The George W. Bush Administration asserted that open funding of Iranian prodemocracy activists (see below) was a stated effort to change regime behavior, not to overthrow the regime, although some saw the Bush Administration’s efforts as a cover to achieve a regime change objective. Broadcasting/Public Diplomacy Issues Another part of the democracy promotion effort has been the development of Iran-specific U.S. broadcasting services to Iran. Radio Farda (“tomorrow,” in Farsi) began under Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), in partnership with the Voice of America (VOA), in 2002. The service was established as a successor to a smaller Iran broadcasting effort begun with an initial $4 million from the FY1998 Commerce/State/Justice appropriation (P.L. 105-119). It was to be called Radio Free Iran but was never formally given that name by RFE/RL. Based in Prague, Radio Farda broadcasts 24 hours/day and has 59 full time employees. Its estimated budget is $11.1 million for FY2014 and $11.5 million for FY2015. No U.S. assistance has been provided to Iranian exile-run stations.62 VOA Persian Service (Formerly called Persian News Network (PNN). The VOA established a Persian language service to Iran in July 2003. Prior to 2014, it was called Persian News Network (PNN), encompassing radio (1 hour a day or original programming); television (6 hours a day of primetime programming, rebroadcast throughout a 24-hour period); and Internet. The service had come under substantial criticism from observers for losing much of its audience among young, educated, anti-regime Iranians who are looking for signs of U.S. official support. VOA officials told CRS in August 2014 that they have successfully addressed these issues through the human resources office of the VOA. VOA officials also have brought back a show that had particular appeal with audiences inside Iran—“Parazit” (Persian for static)—a comedy show modeled on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” That show was cancelled in 2012 after its founder, Kambiz Hosseini, was taken off PNN early that year. A show that satirizes Iranian leaders and news from Iran—called On Ten—began in April 2012. According VOA briefings, costs for PNN are: FY2010, $23.78 million; FY2011, $22.5 million; FY2012, $23.32 million. In FY2013 its costs are expected were about $18 million. Its budget for FY2014 was $23.1 million and about $18 million for FY2015. 62 The conference report on the FY2006 regular foreign aid appropriations, P.L. 109-102, stated the sense of Congress that such support should be considered. Congressional Research Service 43 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Table 9. Iran Democracy Promotion Funding FY2004 Foreign operations appropriation (P.L. 108-199) earmarked $1.5 million for “educational, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations and individuals inside Iran to support the advancement of democracy and human rights in Iran.” The State Department Bureau of Democracy and Labor (DRL) gave $1 million to a unit of Yale University, and $500,000 to National Endowment for Democracy. FY2005 $3 million from FY2005 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 108-447) for democracy promotion. Priority areas: political party development, media, labor rights, civil society promotion, and human rights. FY2006 $11.15 for democracy promotion from regular FY2006 foreign aid appropriation (P.L. 109-102). $4.15 million administered by DRL and $7 million for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. FY2006 supp. Total of $66.1 million (of $75 million requested) from FY2006 supplemental (P.L. 109-234): $20 million for democracy promotion; $5 million for public diplomacy directed at the Iranian population; $5 million for cultural exchanges; and $36.1 million for Voice of America-TV and “Radio Farda” broadcasting. Broadcasting funds are provided through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. FY2007 FY2007 continuing resolution provided $6.55 million for Iran (and Syria) to be administered through DRL. $3.04 million was used for Iran. No funds were requested. FY2008 $60 million (of $75 million requested) is contained in Consolidated Appropriation (H.R. 2764, P.L. 110161), of which, according to the conference report $21.6 million is ESF for pro-democracy programs, including non-violent efforts to oppose Iran’s meddling in other countries. $7.9 million is from a “Democracy Fund” for use by DRL. The Appropriation also fully funded additional $33.6 million requested for Iran broadcasting: $20 million for VOA Persian service; and $8.1 million for Radio Farda; and $5.5 million for exchanges with Iran. FY2009 Request was for $65 million in ESF “to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for a democratic and open society by promoting civil society, civic participation, media freedom, and freedom of information.” H.R. 1105 (P.L. 111-8) provides $25 million for democracy promotion programs in the region, including in Iran. FY2010 $40 million requested and used for Near East Regional Democracy programming. Programs to promote human rights, civil society, and public diplomacy in Iran constitute a significant use of these region-wide funds. FY2011 $40 million requested and will be used for Near East Regional Democracy programs. Programming for Iran with these funds to be similar to FY2010. FY2012 $35 million for Near East Regional Democracy, and Iran-related use similar to FY2010 and FY2011. FY2013 $30 million for Near East Regional Democracy, with Iran use similar to prior two fiscal years. FY2014 $30 million for Near East Regional Democracy, with Iran use similar to prior three fiscal years. FY2015 $30 million for Near East Regional Democracy, with Iran use likely similar to previous years. Request mentions funding to be used to help circumvent Internet censorship. FY2016 $30 million requested for Near East Regional Democracy, with Iran use likely similar to prior years. Sources: Information provided by State Department and reviewed by Department’s Iran Office, February 1, 2010; State Department Congressional Budget Justifications; author conversation with Department of State Iran Office, April 21, 2011. State Department Public Diplomacy Efforts The State Department also is trying to enhance its public diplomacy to reach out to the Iranian population.  In May 2003, the State Department added a Persian-language website to its list of foreign language websites, under the authority of the Bureau of International Information Programs. The website was announced as a source of information about the United States and its policy toward Iran. Congressional Research Service 44 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy   In February 14, 2011, the State Department began Persian-language Twitter feeds in an effort to connect better with Internet users in Iran. In part to augment U.S. public diplomacy, the State Department announced in April 2011 that a Persian-speaking U.S. diplomat based at the U.S. Consulate in Dubai would make regular appearances on Iranian media. Since 2006, the State Department has been increasing the presence of Persian-speaking U.S. diplomats in U.S. diplomatic missions around Iran, in part to help identify and facilitate Iranian participate in U.S. democracy-promotion programs. The Iran unit at the U.S. consulate in Dubai has been enlarged significantly into a “regional presence” office, and “Iran-watcher” positions have been added to U.S. diplomatic facilities in Baku, Azerbaijan; Istanbul, Turkey; Frankfurt, Germany; London; and Ashkabad, Turkmenistan, all of which have large expatriate Iranian populations and/or proximity to Iran.63 An “Office of Iran Affairs” has been formed at the State Department, and it is reportedly engaged in contacts with U.S.-based exile groups such as those discussed earlier. 63 Farah Stockman, “‘Long Struggle’ With Iran Seen Ahead,” Boston Globe, March 9, 2006. Congressional Research Service 45 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Opposition Group: People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK, PMOI) The best-known exiled opposition group is the Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK), also known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). Secular and left-leaning, it was formed in the 1960s to try to overthrow the Shah of Iran and has been characterized by U.S. reports as attempting to blend several ideologies, including Marxism, feminism, and Islam, although the organization denies that it ever advocated Marxism. It allied with pro-Khomeini forces during the Islamic revolution and, according to State Department reports, supported the November 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The group was driven into exile after it unsuccessfully rose up against the Khomeini regime in September 1981. It has been led for decades by spouses Maryam and Massoud Rajavi but in 2011 Ms. Zohreh Akhyani was elected as MEK Secretary-General. Maryam Rajavi is based in France but the whereabouts of Massoud Rajavi are unknown. The State Department designated the PMOI as an FTO in October 1997—during the presidency of the relatively moderate Mohammad Khatemi. The NCR was named as an alias of the PMOI in October 1999, and in August 2003, the Treasury Department ordered the groups’ offices in the United States closed. State Department reports on international terrorism for the years until 2011 asserted that the members of the organization were responsible for: the alleged killing of seven American military personnel and contract advisers to the former Shah during 1973-1976; bombings at U.S. government facilities in Tehran in 1972 as a protest of the visit to Iran of then-President Richard Nixon; and bombings of U.S. corporate offices in Iran to protest the visit of then Secretary of State Kissinger. The reports also listed as terrorism several attacks by the group against regime targets (including 1981 bombings that killed high ranking officials), attacks on Iranian government facilities, and attacks on Iranian security officials. However, the reports did not assert that any of these attacks purposely targeted civilians. The group’s alliance with Saddam Hussein’s regime in contributed to the designation, even though Saddam was a tacit U.S. ally when the group moved to Iraq in 1986. The PMOI challenged the FTO listing in the U.S. court system and, in June 2012, the Appeals Court gave the State Department until October 1, 2012, to decide on the FTO designation, although without prescribing how the Department should decide. On September 28, 2012, maintaining there had not been confirmed acts of PMOI terrorism for more than a decade and that it had cooperated on the Camp Ashraf issue (below), the group was removed from the FTO list as well as from the designation as a terrorism supporter under Executive Order 13224. However, State Department officials, in a background briefing that day, said “We do not see the [PMOI] as a viable or democratic opposition movement.... They are not part of our picture in terms of the future of Iran.” The NCR-I reopened its offices in Washington, DC, in April 2013. The State Department has been meeting with the MEK since its removal from the FTO list, including in Iraq. Camp Ashraf Issue The de-listing of the group has not resolved the situation of PMOI members in Iraq. U.S. forces attacked PMOI military installations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom (March 2003) and negotiated a ceasefire with PMOI elements in Iraq, according to which the approximately 3,400 PMOI members consolidated at Camp Ashraf, near the border with Iran. Its weaponry was placed in storage, guarded first by U.S. and now by Iraqi personnel. In July 2004, the United States granted the Ashraf detainees “protected persons” status under the 4 th Geneva Convention, although that designation lapsed when Iraq resumed full sovereignty in June 2004. The Iraqi government’s pledges to adhere to all international obligations with respect to the PMOI in Iraq has come into question on several occasions: on July 28, 2009, Iraq used force to overcome resident resistance to setting up a police post in the camp, killing 13 n residents of the camp. On April 8, 2011, Iraq Security Forces killed 36 Ashraf residents; the State Department issued a statement attributing the deaths to the actions of Iraq and its military. In December 2011, the Iraqi government and the United Nations agreed to relocate Ashraf residents to the former U.S. military base Camp Liberty, near Baghdad’s main airport. The relocation was completed by September 17, 2012, leaving a residual group of 101 PMOI persons at Ashraf. The group asserted that conditions at Liberty are poor and the facility is unsafe. On February 9, 2013, the camp was attacked by rockets, killing eight PMOI members; the Shiite militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah (KAH) claimed responsibility. Another rocket attack on the camp took place on June 15, 2013. On September 1, 2013, 52 of the residual Ashraf residents were killed by gunmen that appeared to have assistance from Iraqi forces guarding Ashraf’s perimeter. Seven others remain missing. All survivors of the attack were moved to Camp Liberty, and Ashraf has been taken over by Iran-backed Shiite militias. An October 29, 2015 rocket attack on the Camp killed 24 residents. The FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 114-92) calls for “prompt and appropriate steps” to promote the protection of Camp residents. Since 2011, the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has sought to resettle PMOI members outside Iraq. About 600 have been resettled so far: 450 to Albania; 95 to Germany; 95 to Italy; 15 to Norway; and 2 to Finland. The United States reportedly might resettle 100 or more, but the U.S. requirement that those resettled disavow the group has apparently held up implementation of that program. About 200 have returned to Iran; a few of them reportedly have been imprisoned and/or mistreated. Congressional Research Service 46 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Figure 1. Structure of the Iranian Government Source: CRS. Congressional Research Service 47 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Figure 2. Map of Iran Source: Map boundaries from Map Resources, 2005. Graphic: CRS. Congressional Research Service 48 Iran, Gulf Security, and U.S. Policy Author Contact Information Kenneth Katzman Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs kkatzman@crs.loc.gov, 7-7612 Congressional Research Service 49