News / USA

US Government Shutdown Delays Security Upgrades, Iran Sanctions Monitoring

FILE - A statue of former Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin stands outside the Treasury Building in Washington.
FILE - A statue of former Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin stands outside the Treasury Building in Washington.
TEXT SIZE - +
— U.S. officials say the partial government shutdown is delaying security upgrades to embassies abroad and cutting staff in offices that monitor sanctions against Iran.

Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf says the shutdown is delaying training for Diplomatic Security agents and has put on hold embassy security upgrades including new construction, major renovations and new leases.

"These include some of the same enhancements recommended by the Accountability Review Board that followed the Benghazi attack," she said. "So I think for a Congress that has never missed an opportunity to talk about embassy security, this is a result of its inability to do its job."

Harf says there is no money for security assistance for Israel or the peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula.

"So again, for a Congress that talks about its commitment to Israel, here's the impact of its inability to do its job," she said

Harf says the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has furloughed nearly all of its staff, raising questions about Washington's ability to monitor sanctions against Iran.

"So we think this is an unhelpful, contradictory message to send at a time when everyone is looking to see whether a combination of tough sanctions on the one hand and equally tough diplomacy can push Iran to address the world's concerns about its nuclear program," she said.

It's a question that Republican Senator Ron Johnson put to Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at a Senate hearing on Iran Thursday.

"Why would the State Department and the Treasury Department not deem the people in charge of enforcing the sanctions against Iran as essential services of the federal government?  Why wouldn't they do that?," said Johnson.

Sherman responded, "Well, we only have limited budgets available to us. So I know that you would believe that there are many things that Treasury must do to make sure that U.S. currency, U.S. monetary and fiscal policy is protected. They have a whole variety of things that are essential to U.S. national security and foreign policy."

"So it's a matter of prioritizing spending," Johnson said.

At that hearing, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine placed the blame for the shutdown squarely on Republicans in the House of Representatives.

"It is not the Department of State's fault and it is not the administration's fault that Congress hasn't passed a budget," said Kane.

At the State Department, deputy spokeswoman Harf says people around the world do not understand why the United States cannot keep its house in order.

In Sri Lanka - where the Obama administration is urging authorities to more aggressively pursue reconciliation and accountable government - Harf quoted from a press account saying Sri Lankans should package that good governance advice and return to sender.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid