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.
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

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid